Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Eyes To The Skies: Tanabata Lands At Japan Society

A wish for world peace via.
In Japan, Tanabata, or the Star Festival, is a celebration of the meeting of two lovers blazing in the stars. Separated by the Milky Way, Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by Vega, the Weaver Star, and Altair, the Cowherd Star, respectively) are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month. On this day of heavenly miracles, people write wishes on colorful strips of paper and hang them on decorated bamboo trees.

On Sunday, July 11th, Japan Society invites children ages 2-10 to celebrate with the family program Japan's Star Festival: Create Tanabata Decorations. Educator and master storyteller Tara McGowan introduces a variety of fun and exciting folktales through kamishibai traditional Japanese storytelling. Tara discussed the power of the medium in a recent article about her work and kamishibai in general:
"Children can go off on wild directions and lose focus. The cards keep them structured within the story. There’s something very concrete about it, and it’s a wonderful way to get children to play with story elements."
In addition to telling Tanabata stories specific to the holiday, Tara pays homage to the stars with more celestial stories that are engaging and illuminating for the whole family.

Children and their parents can also take part in an assortment of craft activities, such as making traditional tanzaku (paper strips for writing wishes), paper stars, colorful paper chains, and more. Children can proudly display their handmade tanzaku and ornaments on bamboo trees at the Society.

For those who can’t make it to Japan Society, we've posted tanzaku instructions on our site About Japan: A Teacher’s Resource, so you can make them at home or wherever you are.

Have fun stargazing and may your wishes come true!


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