Tanabata

Today is Tanabata.

It is a Festival of the Weaver or the day of the Star Festival.

There is a story …

A Long time ago, there were Orihime–she was a weaver– and Hikoboshi, he was a cowherd.

They were hard workers.

But after they got married, they became lazy.

So her father, who was Tentei (Lord of Hosts), got angry and made them separate.

July 7th is the only day in the year they can meet in the Milky Way.

Orihime is the star Vega and Hikoboshi is the star Altair.

And on this day, people throughout Japan write their wishes for the future on slips of paper and hang them from bamboo branches.

Shoki-san

These little figures on the front roofs are called ” Shoki-san”.

They are for protection from harm or disaster, and their roots are from Taoism in China. 

They block goblins and demons which came from temples and Shoki-san protect people’s homes. 

Kyoto has a lot of temples, so there are many Shoki-san.

They say there are about 3000 of them.

You can find many of them in Kamihichiken and other traditional neighborhoods.

Chimaki and Kashiwa mochi

We eat these things on Children’s day.

The long ones are called “Chimaki”.

The round ones are called “Kashiwa mochi”.

Kashiwa mochi is wrapped in oak leaves. 

A long time ago, oak leaves were a container for offerings to the gods.

Oak leaves don’t fall until new bud appear.

So people eat Kashiwa mochi for their descendants.

Chimaki came from Chaina in the Heian era.

Eating it is said to ward off evil.

It seems that people in the Kanto area usually eat Kashiwa mochi, but in Kansai Chimaki is nomal.

By the way Kashiwa mochi has sweet beans inside.

Children’s Day

Today (May 5) is Children’s Day in Japan.
It is especially for boys.

Families who have boys decorate May dolls like armor and helmets of warriors in the room.

These are said to protect people from illnesses and accidents.

And they decorate with carp streamers (Koinobori) like this photo, hoping for boys growth and success.

A black carp is the father, a red carp is the mother and the others are children.

These came from samurai custom.