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Kan-chan

Member of Kikkoman’s International Operations Division.
Responsible for International Public Relations.
Enjoys traveling and art, especially paintings from the Italian Renaissance.

Kan-chan

Tanabata

Hi everyone!

This is Kan-chan, here to introduce the festival of Tanabata, celebrated every year in Japan on July 7th.

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Tanabata is derived from the Chinese Qixi Festival, with both festivals centering around the story of the Weaving Princess and the Cow Herber. While details differ slightly between East Asian countries, the basic story remains the same.

The most popular iteration of the story in Japan focuses on Orihime, literally meaning "weaving princess." The daughter of the Heavenly Emperor, she spun the most fabulous cloth known to anyone.  She is eventually married to Hikoboshi (lit. cow herder). 

Due to her affection for her husband, Orihime begins to neglect even her weaving, angering her father.  To force Orihime to once again produce the cloth that only she could make, the Heavenly Emperor separated the couple by having them live apart on opposite sides of the Heavenly River, permitting the two to only meet once a year on July 7th, which is celebrated as Tanabata.

 

The couple is represented in the night sky by the stars Vega and Altair for Orihime and Hikoboshi respectively.  The two stars are separated by the Milky Way, which stands in place for the Heavenly River. 

In Japan one of the main aspects of celebrating Tanabata is writing wishes on small strips of paper called tanzaku, which are then hung on bamboo that are commonly placed around cities and towns throughout Japan for the holiday.  In the past, wishes were supposed to be centered on improving one's skills in handicrafts and calligraphy-related activities, but these days wishes can be about anything.

 

The most famous Tanabata celebration in Japan takes place in Sendai, which is one of the three main festivals that takes place in the Tohoku region.  The streets of the city are lined with a seemingly endless array of the hanging decorations traditionally used for the festival, which can sometimes be as tall as street lamps.

 

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Another tradition observed during Tanabata in Japan is eating somen noodles. The belief is that if you eat somen during Tanabata you will not fall seriously ill.  An aspect of this festival is that eating seasoning items, such as somen, will keep disease and bad  omens away.  On top of that, somen is perfect for helping you feel refresh and eating easy, during the hot summers of Japan.

 

To help even those outside of Japan get a feel of Tanabata, we want to introduce a recipe for Tanabata Somen for everyone to enjoy at home. Here is the recipe.

 

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Everyone be sure to make a wish tomorrow and hope for clear evening skies so Orihime and Hikoboshi will have a pleasant meeting this year. 

Until next time!

 

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