Japan celebrates varieties of traditional festivals

The National, Monday July 18th, 2016

LIKE Papua New Guinea, Japan celebrates a variety of traditional festivals during the year.
Some of them New Year, first day of the lunar calendar, doll festival, the birth of budha, children’s festival, the festival of lanterns ect.
During the summer, the Tanabata or star festival is celebrated in most regions of Japan. This  involves decorations, parades and the Miss Tanabata contests. The streets and shops are decorated with colours.
The festival celebrates the reunion of two young lovers in the milky way or star world. It is believed that a celestial forces brought them together and can grant wishes.
The Tanabata Festival dates back to more than 2000 years ago, originating from China. It was introduced to Japan during the Nara period (755 AD) but gained popularity in the Edo period (1603-1868 AD) and developed into the modern Tanabata Festival.
According to its legend, it all began with two stars, Vega and Altair. Vega, who was also called Orihime, was a princess as she was the daughter of god Tentei, the king of the universe. The princess had no time for romance. Deeply concerned with his daughter’s situation, god Tentei arranged for her to meet with Altair, also known as Hikoboshi, a cow herder prince, who lived and worked on the other side of the Milky Way.
When the two met, they instantly fell in love and got married. The lovers were so deeply in love and spent more time together that they neglected their responsibilities.
Thus, Princess Orihime did not weave any clothes and Prince Hikoboshi let his cows astray. As a result, Tentei became angry and separated the lovers.
Princess Orihime became so lonely that she pleaded tearfully with her father who felt sorry for her and allowed the two lovers to meet again. But only once every year on the 7th day of the 7th month according to the lunar calendar.
The story of the two lovers was told by the Japan Embassy on the first week of this month.
Ambassador to PNG Morio Matsumotto and his wife Yoko each took turn in hosting a mini festival last Wednesday and Thursday night.
Everyone wrote their wishes on colourful strips of paper, had them hung on shrub-like bamboo and then headed for Japanese dishes to conclude the festival, a glimpse of the actual celebration in Japan.