Odori Park, by Chris Watkins Odori Park - Blog

:: Tanabata ::

Like the drunkest of high school gym teachers (or maybe it was just mine), I totally slept through an opportunity to teach you something interesting. A week ago, on July 7th, Japan celebrated Tanabata, aka, the Star Festival.

This is the Internet, so there’s not much need to rehash information that someone else has already hashed, so I’ll just point you to a Tanabata writeup at David in Japan. (There, you can also check out a video of a girl peeling an orange while she juggles. Which has nothing to do with Tanabata.)

I think the neatest thing about Tanabata is the practice of writing your wishes on paper, and tying those papers to a tree. I think this must be connected to Shinto tradition, which seems to involve a fair amount of tying things to other things. Most specifically, shimenawa, specially braided ropes with strips of folded white paper tied to them. The biggest of these I’ve seen (was I told it’s the longest in Japan?) is in Hokkaido, near the town of Shizunai, which we saw while visiting a good friend the last time we were in Japan as a family. Enjoy the photo.

The giant shimenawa near Shizunai, Hokkaido. Or: How to keep an island from floating away.
The giant shimenawa near Shizunai, Hokkaido.
Or: How to keep an island from floating away.

(If it makes you feel any better, we also neglected to do anything Tanabata related with our son. We’re attentive parents. Later this year, we plan to forget Christmas.)

Fixed the incorrect link code on that David in Japan link, above. Whoops!


  1. DavidinJapan

    Thanks for the link! Cool comic.

    As to shimenawa, I think the biggest is in Izumo. That one there is incredibly thick. Here’s a quick random pic from google images:

  2. Chris

    My pleasure, David. Thanks for the kind words!

    I’ve seen photos of the shimenawa in Izumo. It’s impressive! It’s also sort of funny that they need other ropes to hold up the big rope. :)

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