Do You Know? Festival in Japan
Tanabata (七夕). Also known as Star Festival, is observed on
7th July. It is one of Japan’s five traditional seasonal festivals, originating in China and first observed in Japan by the ancient imperial court. When tanabata first arrived in Japan, poetry contests were held to celebrate the festival by writing verses as they gazed up at the stars. It was only after Edo period (1603–1868), the practice of writing wishes on long, narrow strips of colorful paper (tanzaku) and hanging them from branches of bamboo became a yearly affair. Bamboo is thought to have become a part of the tanabata tradition for its propensity to grow straight and tall, with upward stretching branches bearing wishes to heaven on the wind. It was also believed to ward off insects and was displayed to protect rice crops and symbolize hopes of a bountiful harvest! In modern days, tanzaku, vibrant ornaments and other decorations are hung from bamboo branches, enlivening the decor of homes as well as brightening shopping arcades, train stations and other public spaces!