Saturday, July 7, 2007
Tanabata Matsuri Festival
Today we went to Kyoto to celebrate Tanabata. Tanabata is a Chinese and Japanese festival that celebrates the annual meeting of two stars. These two stars fell in love, but were forever separated, because they neglected their work. They were allowed to meet one night a year, on the seventh night of the seventh month. They were able to meet if the night were a clear night. Today the festival is celebrated by writing wishes on brightly colored pieces of paper and tying them to a bamboo tree.
We started our day by going to Kiyomizu Temple where you write your name and your partner's name on two slips of paper shaped like dolls. This is supposed to bring everlasting love. Then we went to Kodai-ji Temple where we tied slips of paper with our wishes written on them to bamboo trees. Finally we traveled over to Shiramine Shrine where we watched a traditional game similar to hackey sack, played by Shinto Priests. It was really neat. They would kick a ball that was slightly smaller than a soccer ball high into the air. Then it would come down and another Priest would kick it up. they would keep it going for a while then it would go off into the crowd, and they would start over. Then the game was followed by some traditional dancing. young girls danced to celebrate the separated star lovers. It was a beautiful dance and a beautiful day.
It was very busy and we are very tired now. A long day traveling and sightseeing, but it makes us grateful for this opportunity to travel and experience a different culture. I just hope that we are able to rest and relax a bit before the week starts.