The Japanese calendar is full of holidays unfamiliar to many Westerners. While Hina Matsuri, or Doll's Day, and a few others are famous abroad, there are likely many who are unfamiliar with Tanabata. In Japan, Tanabata, or the star festival, is a summer festival that takes place on July seventh. On that day, residents take the chance to write wishes and tie them on bamboo among the general merrymaking.

The folklore of Tanabata

The story of Tanabata is based on ancient Chinese folklore. The precursor story made its way into Japan during the Nara period. At that time, customs surrounding wishing upon stars began.

The holiday is centered around the folktale of two gods. Orihime, the daughter of the Emperor, was a hardworking woman who was good at weaving. She eventually fell in love with Hikoboshi, a hardworking cowherd. However, when they got married, they neglected their duties due to their newly found happiness.

Angered by this, the Emperor separated the two and banished them to separate realms of the Milky Way. Yet, because Orihime was heartbroken by this, he permitted the couple to meet only once a year, on the night of July seventh. Tanabata is held on that day every year, and it is said to be the day when lovers can reunite.

There are many variations of the story, but they essentially all follow the same throughline. In modern-day Japan, residents celebrate by decorating bamboo trees with colorful pieces of paper as they pray for Orihime and Hikoboshi to meet. They also write wishes and tie them to bamboo trees while celebrating at any of a myriad of festivals and related events at shrines and temples across the country.

Funny Tanabata wishes

Like many, Instagram user Yuka (yukaaa.o31), who is raising five children, also decorated bamboo at home as she celebrated the holiday. Yet, she couldn't help but post the striking wishes of her children on the SNS platform:

"I hope I don't become lost in the Amazon (Yuka’s oldest boy)"

Surprised upon reading this, she couldn't help but ask when he was planning on going….

"I hope our refrigerator never becomes empty (second oldest daughter)."

Yuka noted, “Thank you for worrying about that....”

"The issues of CoroCoro Comic we have at home are such a nuisance, I hope someone throws them away (oldest daughter)."

“I agree. Lol,” Yuka responded.

"I hope my grandpa's hair grows back (oldest daughter)"

Yuka: “Oh, that might be difficult...”

"I hope my dad doesn’t lose anymore weight (oldest son)."

Yuka: "Hey, wait! It sounds like I don't cook enough food for him! Lol”

"May we have hot and cold corn soup on tap (second oldest daughter)."

Yuka: “I won’t even be able to wash my hands.”

"Pork . Sushi shrimp tempura (third daughter)."

Yuka: “That’s your favorite, huh?”

"May my hair grow back for free (grandpa)."

Yuka’s followers reacted to these eye-popping wishes:

  • “Ah, this sense of humor is completely hereditary, isn't it?”
  • “It’s too funny. I’m shaking.”
  • “It seems difficult to fulfill the wishes of the grandfather. Lol.”

I don't know if everyone's wishes for Tanabata will come true, but it’s good to see the children are reaching for the stars.

By - Luke Mahoney.