It’s festival season in Japan! Wait—it seems like it’s always festival season in Japan. Well anyway, I was excited to finally see the Star Festival last weekend. The most famous in Tokyo is the Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival, held conveniently close to us just a couple stops from Fujisawa Station. Chris and I took the train right over.
‘Tanabata’ means ‘evening of the seventh’ and one version of the legend goes like this: the Sky King’s daughter worked hard weaving clothes by the banks of the Amanogawa, Heavenly River (Milky Way), weeping with loneliness as she worked. The Sky King was concerned for his daughter so he introduced her to the Cow Herder Star and the two young people fell instantly in love. After their wedding, happiness obscured all thoughts of their obligations: the princess’ cloth went unwoven; cows strayed all across the heavens. The Sky King punished their foolishness by separating the two forever, but his daughter’s tears and petitions moved him to show a bit of mercy. If she worked hard all year, then the seventh night of the seventh month would belong to the lovers. The princess worked diligently only to arrive at the riverbank and stare helplessly at her husband across the sparkling, bridge-less waters. The princess knew what to do: she wept. A flock of magpies spanned the starry river and the princess crossed to her lover on their wings. Each year the couple toils long and hard for one brief night together, but if it rains the magpies cannot come and the lovers remain separated another year.