Tanabata–When You Wish Upon a Star

Tanabata–When You Wish Upon a Star

Today is Tanabata (七夕, the Star Festival), the one day of the year that the legendary Princess Orihime and her husband, Prince Hikoboshi, are allowed to meet in the heavens.

It’s also the day that Japanese moms get up extra early to pack a Tanabata-themed bento box for their kids: popular items are okra (representing stars), pink and blue rice (representing the star-crossed lovers), and noodles (representing Princess Orihime’s beautiful weaving).

Wafuu in the West original Princess Orihime Bento
Hair (carrots), eyes (cucumber skin), earrings (corn), cheeks and lips (paprika powder/olive oil)
collar (peeled cucumbers), face (mixed white rice and quinoa)
Starry sky: corn and corn silk (とうもろこしのひげ, corn’s beard)
Wafuu placemat: handmade by Oklahoma (USA) piano teacher

Today’s post will be brief, but we would like to answer a question put to us by one of our faithful readers. Her question was, “How long should you leave Tanabata decorations up? Seven days?” There are seven Tanabata decorations: kamigoromo, orizuru, kinchaku, toami, fukinagashi, kuzukago, and tanzaku wishing papers hung on bamboo branches, and since Tanabata happens on 7/7, seven days is a good guess, but we did a little research, and here is what we found out:

Historically–put up by sunset on July 6 (like the Jewish Shabbat, each day used to begin the evening before, rather than at midnight); take down the next morning (by floating away on the river or sea)

Traditionally–put up on July 7; take down on July 8

Actually–put up on July 7; enjoy for as long as you want (Tanabata only comes once a year!)

How did you celebrate Tanabata this year? What was your Tanabata wish? (Our wish this year is to find a candidate for a Wafuu interview…)

Tokyo Metro wish box at Iidabashi Station
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