Today, Tanabata(七夕). But we have a rainy day.
Do you know Tanabata(七夕)? Tanabata(七夕) is one of our traditional annual events. Tanabata is たなばた(棚機) and it means a loom/looms. We usually use 七夕 as たなばた. 七夕 literally means “Evening of the seventh”, which was celebrated on July 7 of the traditional Japanese lunar-solar calendar originally though which is celebrated on July 7 of Gregorian calendar now. When we write 七夕, we also read it shichi-seki. Shichi is seven and seki is evening.
Tanabata(七夕) is a star festival. According to legend, Amanogawa(天の川) separates the lovers(Orihime and Hikoboshi), and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the June 7. If it rains on Tanabata(七夕), the two lovers have to wait until another year to meet. Amanogawa(天の川) is Milky Way, but it literally means Sky River. Yes, a river. So if it rains, the river swells. Hence, to hold this event on July 7 of Gregorian calendar is a little bit silly or very mean because the day is the midst of the rainy season in Japan. Besides, the seventh on Gregorian calendar doesn’t always have a first quarter moon. If it has a full moon, Tanabata(七夕) is in a real mess because it is a star festival.
When we shed old calender, such things like above happen more times. Tanabata(七夕) and Obon(お盆) were two big events in July of the traditional Japanese lunar-solar calendar. Now, this Gregorian calendar days, one is still in July and another is in August. The two event are still alive in Japan but they don’t have strong relations to Moon anymore.
10 replies on “Tanabata(七夕) on the rainy day.”
I live in the other side of the world (Western Europe) but also here we had a Tanabata with rain…But I didn’t know that the set at 7 july is just an adaptation of a movable feast. And here july is usually a very dry month…Thanks for the news 🙂 and for tha 12 kingdom translations 🙂
Thanks for your comment, shizuka.
What do you mean ‘a movable feast’ exactly? My article gave you some wrong information, didn’t you? Tanabata has been held on July 7 for a long time, maybe more than 1000 years. But we changed our everyday-use calendar in Japan at Meiji era, so July 7 itself moved from one to another season. Does your word ‘a movable feast’ mean this?
Anyway, you are also a 12 kingdoms fan? Ha-ha.
Thanks for your answer! Well a movable feast is a feast that is not bound to a specific day. For example, Easter that is connected with the moon phase and changes every year. So of course Tanabata is not so “movable” :). I was confused because I’m not used with japanese way to identify a date in the past ( the “eras system”). Re reading your post i noticed that the day was always the 7th of july and maybe is that date that changed its “position” in the year (due to the change of calendar). Is it right?
As it is,I’ ve read only one novel of the serie but I’ve already really appreciated Ono Fuyumi works and this serie seems very interesting.
> that date that changed its “position” in the year
Yes, it is. We changed our everyday-use calendar from Tenpō calendar to the Gregorian calendar on 1872 (Meiji era 1868-1912). The Gregorian calendar brought us a gap of seasonal sense because both new and old calendars have the same names of months. The New Year’s day of Gregorian calendar is about 10 days after the winter solstice. On the other hand, the New Year’s day of Tenpō calendar is the
nearestnew moon of the vernal equinox whether before or after. Nowadays, Tanabata is not so popular than the past, though children still celebrate it in kindergartens and elementary schools. Sad thing.
> this serie seems very interesting.
Yes, her works are marvelous.
>> . Nowadays, Tanabata is not so popular than the past, though children still celebrate it in kindergartens and elementary schools. Sad thing.
Really sad…Think that I live in Italy and got in touch with Tanabata through my japanese teacher. She organize a Tanabata Festival every year and we, teachers and students make or bring food, that we eat together waiting for the night to come. Sensei and her japanese friend also prepare the paper decorations. It’s so strange to me that in its country of origin this funny feast is a little neglected…
Yes, it’s a little shame Tanabata is not so popular as a festival at home. Nowadays, in modern and civilized countries we can see fewer stars than the past. Maybe, in Italy, you have had experiences that you cannot see the Milky Way due to skyglows. I think this gives bad effects to Tanabata. Besides, in the rainy season.
On the other hand, Tanabata as famous festivals are held in several cities. The most famous one is Sendai Tanabata which is held from August 6 to August 8 every year. This August is from the Gregorian calendar. So the festival is not in the rainy season.
It’s a shame that Tanabata is now on the rainy season, but I guess that would make it more special if there’s no rain and you can look at the sky.
I was reading on that Wikipedia article that people make paper decorations. Did you do anything for Tanabata?
Hi LTNS!! Are you well?
> people make paper decorations.
Yes. But I don’t see many scenes of them recently. The family that has little children still makes such bamboo decorations. I think Tanabata is less popular than good old days.
> Did you do anything for Tanabata?
Nothing this year but I wrote the post (^_^;). Usually I see stars with some feelings though I don’t have a chance every year.
Hi, I couldn’t figure how to replay to your last replay ( there isn’t a replay button). Well I hardly saw the Milky Way from Italy. In fact I saw it only in Ireland and sometimes in the Alps. Here It’s quite hard do see it also far away the big cities. Thanks for the information about the August Tanabata. When there will be my long desired trip to Japan I have to choose between the Sakura bloosoming period and the summer period (when I think, the most of matsuri takes places…) a very hard choice…^^
Sorry for my late reply.
> there isn’t a replay button
Yes, it’s due to my configuration. A thread shows the reply button until 5 level deep. When you reach more than 5 level deep, you need to start a new thread. Sorry my system confused you.
If you come to Japan and it is your first time as a visit of Japan, I do not recommend Japanese summer. If you choose Hokkaidō for your trip, it’ OK even during summer. If not, maybe you will be exhausted because Japanese summer is very very muggy.