Japanese Loveliness

July hosts one of the most charming celebrations I know – Tanabata or The Star Festival. This festival is inspired by a famous folk story relating to two stars called the Weaver (Vega) and the Cowherd (Altair).

Orihime – the weaver who sits one side of the Milky Way – is the daughter of Tentei the ruler of the heavens. She was famed for her weaving skills but was saddened by having no-one to love. Seeing her sadness, Tentei arranged a marriage with Hikoboshi, who resides on the other side of the Milky Way. So in love were they that Orihime neglected her weaving duties and, in anger, Tentei decreed that they only meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month. On that day the boatman – the moon – ferries Orihime across the Milky Way to be with Hikoboshi.

Bamboo and Tanzuku

During Tanabata bamboo canes are adorned with – Tanzuku – small strips of paper that detail the wishes of the writer. These wishes traditionally asked for an improvement in a technical skill in honour of the weaving skills of Orihime and I think it would be great to get your kids to do the same.

What you’ll need:

• bucket or other suitable container

• bamboo canes

• sand or soil

paper

• scissors – it might be nice to make the edges of the Tanzuku wavy, pinked or zig-zagged.

glue

• or double sided stick tape

• pens – our lovely metallic pens will add a touch of ‘star’ quality to the Tanzuku.

glitter – as will some sparkly glitter.

What you do:

Fill the storage container or bucket with sand or soil and push the bamboo canes firmly in to stop them falling over.

Cut strips of paper into varied lengths.

Get the children to think of a skill they would like to improve – writing, singing, reading for example – and let them write it on the small strips of paper.

Decorate the paper strips with glitter.

Attach them to the bamboo canes with glue or double sided stick tape.

You should end up with something that looks like this:

Image Credit: Flickr, センター街の七夕 by fumi & Wish

Solar System

You could also use the Milky Way, moon and stars as an introduction to the solar system and we have a fabulous felt display that’ll be perfect for the job. It’s tactile, bright and lots of fun for kids to use.

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