Tanabata: Evening of the Seventh

The Meeting of Orihime and Hikoboshi

The Legend: Seventh of the Seventh

It was said that Orihime was a goddess sent down from the heavens. She lost her robe on her way to Earth and, until she found it she could not go back to heaven. A young farmer, Hikoboshi, found the robe and hid it away. When he came across Orihime she asked him if he had her robe. He denied he had it and agreed to let her live with him until she found it. They got married and years later Orihime found the robe. She was very angry with Hikoboshi and went back to heaven leaving him with a message. She told him to weave

straw sandals and bury them under a bamboo tree. This would allow them to meet again. Eventually he weaved them all and buried them like he had been told. When he did the bamboo shot up in the sky and took Hikoboshi with it. However, he had only made nine hundred and ninety nine sandals, making him one step short of heaven. He called out "Orihime!" and she pulled him up to heaven. Her father was very angry with the both of them and ordered Hikoboshi to guard a field of melons for three days without touching them. Eventually he got very thirsty and reached for a melon. As soon as he touched it, it broke in half and water came rushing out of it. The water created a river between Orihime and Hikoboshi, separating the ふたり . Orihime pleaded to her father, and, moved by her tears, he allowed the two to meet on the seventh day of the seventh month. But when they first tried to meet, they found they had no bridge, and thus could not meet. A few magpies saw the situation and agreed to help Orihime cross the river. However, if it rains the two lovers are not unable to meet.



Variations

There are a few different versions of the story, in each Hikoboshi somehow angers Orihime's father, indirectly or directly. In one version, when he marries Orihime, she stops making her ちち clothes. He gets very angry and forces Hikoboshi back to Earth. In another, Orihime's おとうさん was worried about Orihime being lonely and set them up. In others, Hikoboshi dies before making all of sandals, without ever meeting Orihime again.

Appearances in Pop Culture

Customs

In Japan, there is a tanabata festival every year celebrating the meeting of Orihime and Hikoboshi. Women often wear きもの and most people visit shrines. There are many different games and stalls at Tanabata festivals. Many include: きんぎょ Scooping, Ballon Fishing and Mask Stalls. たこやき and Fairy Floss can be found in the festivals frequently. Many people hang bright and colourful paper from trees and hang pieces of paper with their ゆめ to bamboo branches.