Katherine James-Study Abroad - Carnegie Mellon University

Katherine James

Tanabata Matsuri

Hi friends! I am taking a short break from my extremely busy final exam/paper preparation/writing time to bring you pictures from my awesome night at the Tanabata Matsuri- don't you feel special? ;)

The Tanabata Matsuri, which means "festival of the evening of the seventh" is a lunar festival celebrated at night to commemorate the once-a-year meeting of two lovers, represented by constellations, separated by the Milky Way. The town my friends and I went to were celebrating all weekend, so we went on the fourth of July as a kind of pseudo-Independece Day celebration (we're all Americans)!

My friend Sarah is doing a homestay, so Melanie, Jake, and I were invited to go with them to the festival. Tanabata Matsuri is one of the many yukata festivals of summer, so when we arrived at Sarah's home, we changed into yukata, which are thin summer kimono. I happened to have my fan with me which has rabbits on it, so I picked a yukata with rabbits and moons; in Japan, they believe there is a rabbit on the moon, so it was very appropriate for a lunar festival ^^. Melanie wore a really beautiful obi that looked like a fall of sakura blossoms.

The festival is held in the shopping district of town. Every side street is lined with food, drink, and game stalls, and the broad avenues are canopied by decorations made by local shopowners. Needless to say, it was an incredible sight.

We ate okonomiyaki while standing, chocolate-covered bananas, and fresh melons and coconut. There was a haunted house that we went into- it was actually pretty scary! We also took part in the most important Tanabata custom: writing a wish down on colored paper and hanging it from a bamboo rod. I hope mine comes true!

We all had a really, really great time at the matsuri. I'm so glad I got to go! It was really nice of Sarah's host family to invite us and lend us yukata for the night ^_^ Mel and I were already friends with Sarah's host-sister, Sakie (whom I have officially dubbed Cowgirl Sakie by the power invested in me by the great state of Texas), but her parents were so, so nice and welcoming. I hope I get to see them again before I come back to the States.

Katherine James
Katherine James

H&SS '10- Japanese & Creative Writing
Tokyo, Japan
Academic Year 2008-2009