The Tanabata festival of Japan


Since ancient times people were interested in the starry sky. This interest originated with its annual astronomy calendar, which was extremely important for agriculture, and astrology, with its myths, legends, and attempts to associate by joining together heaven, earth, of gods and men. Stars and constellations have received names, has found its own life, character, history. In honor of the most important gods arranged holidays to get them to continue an annual cycle, to preserve the order of the universe and to take the trouble.

During the Late Chinese Han dynasty (23 – 220 ad) emerged the legend of two lovers, the Weaver star and the Cowherd (the star VEGA in the constellation Lyra, Japanese Sokoji or Tanabata-TsUMe and Altair in the constellation Aquila, in Japanese Congo). Their love was so strong that they could not have issued, and MIGA in separation: Weaver gave up a loom, and the Shepherd left his flocks to. But, as their labors depended the heavenly life on earth, the people suffered untold misery. People cried to the gods and those he had compassion on them, dividing the lovers and allowing them to see each other only once a year.

This and other legends came to Japan from China in the VI-VII centuries, together with the rudiments of astronomy and superimposed on the local myth about a heavenly maiden Tanabata-TsUMe, dawsey clothes for the gods. Romantic story, especially loved by young girls and for the first time the festival was celebrated in the Nara period, in 755 at the court of Imperatrice-Kokan the Regent. Since Weaver was the patroness of weavers and seamstresses, and the Shepherd was the patron of farmers, the holiday quickly gained popularity with all the people – because in ancient times, all fabrics and clothing the villagers produced themselves and engaged in this, it is women and farming men.

The holiday known by two names: 星祭り (ほしまつり, Hoshi-Matsuri, the Festival of stars) and 七夕 (たなばた,Tanabata, the abbreviated name Tanabata-TsUMe). 七夕 (たなばた,Tanabata) in Japanese translates as “the Seventh evening” – and the celebration of the 7th night of the 7th lunar month. (These days, Tanabata is “officially” falls on July 7, but not usde it is celebrated on this day.)

It is considered that the name Tanabata is relevant, the phrase tane-Hata, meaning “seed-field” or “sown field”, the pledge of future harvest. The Japanese were considered the “fertility” as applied not only to harvest but also to family relations. (I personally this holiday reminds our Kupala – the night of Tanabata young people were permitted to retire for love meetings. But in 1842 the shogun considered it disgusting and banned by a special decree.)

On the day of the festival the doors of houses and gates of the estates is decorated with bamboo branches 笹竹 (ささたけ, Masataka), thanks to the rapid growth of bamboo is faster they will carry the prayers to heaven. Twigs attached to a long multi-colored paper tape 短冊 (たんざく, these, the), which brought calligraphy poems Proverbs or wishes – it was considered that such an offering to the gods will help you to become a skilled poet or calligrapher, after all, Tanabata is still patronized the arts and she prayed for joy. On these branches hang special offering Princesa-the weaver – cut paper small kimono. Shepherd farmer brought 5 men multicolored threads: 青い (あおい, AOI, green), 黄色 (きいろ, kiiro, yellow), 赤い (あかい, acai, red), 白い (しろい, shiroi, white) and purple or 黒い (くろい, chicken, black); and asked for good harvest in the coming year. And the next day the branches were thrown into the river, so the water carried the offerings to the Cowherd and the Weaver, and they have fulfilled all desires. Sometimes the same trees were placed in the field and garden to his magical powers protected the crop from pests.

In addition, bamboo poles on the roofs of houses hung a huge colorful POM-poms, from a distance like fluffy balls. These balls were attached numerous long and narrow paper belts – front side was the same color as the pompon, and the underside is white. Tapes optical filters velvety five hoops.

Heroes of the occasion – stars, the Weaver and the Shepherd also brought melons, peaches, special sweets and cakes.

The popularity growth of the festival every year and already in the Tokugawa period the government has included in its five official holidays 五節句 (ごせっく, Gosaku):

1st day of the 1st moon – 新年 (しんねん, Sinan)

3rd day of the 3rd moon – 雛祭り (ひなまつり, Hina-Matsuri) or 桃の節句 (もものせっく, Momo-but sekku)

5th day of the 5th moon – 端午の節句 (たんごのせっく, Tango-but sekku) or 菖蒲の節句 (しょぶのせっく, Cebu city-but sekku).

7th day of the 7th moon – 七夕 (たなばた,Tanabata) or 星祭り (ほしまつり, Hoshi-Matsuri)

9th day of the 9th moon – 菊の節句 (きくのせっく, Kiku-but sekku).

Most known for the celebration of Tanabata in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. Here it was the custom on the morning of the 7th day, before sunrise, collect the dew in a field with rice stalks and leaves of potatoes. This dew diluted the ink and wrote on paper strips with different sayings. And at night, lit incense candles, with attached to the boxes, made of narrow strips of silk and mounted on an arc, which is fastened to the shaft. This custom makes Tanabata with the feast of Bon.

The holiday was always so fond of that famous poets have devoted verses and entire poems, the actors of the IEO plays played, artists painted pictures, simple people socially stories and poems. On this day were poetry tournaments and today in the famous poetry anthologies to find poems about “the day of meeting of two stars”

Ihara, Saikaku:

…In the house preparing for the holiday: stacked and shifted new, spick and span, dresses to the left found on the right floor, like the wings of a chicken, and saying: “These dresses – the Weaver on loan”; wrote in honor of the Weavers on the leaves of the tree Kaji songs known to all. Was going to celebrate and servants: every one took care to stock up on pumpkin and persimmon…

As there, the river of Heaven,

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