• Louise Worner

Tanabata and Ikebana for Children



One of my daughters favourite Japanese Festivals is Tanabata, the Star Festival. Held on the 7th July, Tanabata, celebrates the reunion of star crossed lovers Orihime and Kengyu who are permitted to cross the ‘heavenly river’ (the Milky Way) and meet just once a year. However, if it rains on the evening of the 7th July the lovers, represented by the stars Altair and Vega, cannot meet and must wait another year to be reunited.


Although Sendai hosts the the most famous Tanabata festival, we have enjoyed celebrating Tanabata in Hiratsuka along with friends who live close by. One of my daughter’s favourite Tanabata traditions is writing wish cards which are hung from branches of bamboo. Because bamboo grows straight and tall it is believed that hanging the colourful wish cards on bamboo would invoke divine protection.


Tying wishes onto bamboo branches

My daughters wrote their wishes on strips of coloured paper and tied them onto bamboo branches. Once finished they chose a vase and place the bamboo on a kenzan.


Adding a hydrangea flower.

They added a Hydrangea flower and a few small stems of bamboo at the bottom of their arrangements.


Using brightly coloured flattened marbles to cover the kenzan.

Isabel decided on some brightly coloured flattened marbles to cover her kenzan as the bright colours matched her brightly coloured green vase.



Topping up the water.

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