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What Is Your Wish for Tanabata?

This week’s Song Lyrics Sunday, hosted by the wonderful Jim Adams, is about zodiac animals. The twelve animals are from Chinese traditions. Today in Japan is a special festival that is based on the Chinese festival known as the Qixi Festival. The Japanese festival is called “Tanabata” (七夕, or “Seventh Night”) and is a story about two lovers who meet on this special night.

The Story of Two Lovers

The “Tanabata” story is told in various forms. The version that I know goes something like this: Once upon a time, there were two celestial entities named Vega and Altar. Vega (織姫; Orihime) was a weaver and Altair (彦星; Hikoboshi) was a cow herder. They lived on different sides of the Milky Way (天の川; Amanogawa) but both of them were lonely. One day, they met each other as part of an arrangement done by Vega’s father. The moment they met, the two fell in love instantly.

Vega and Altar spent every day, every hour, and every minute with each other. They spent so much time together that they forgot their duties as weaver and herder. Soon, people’s clothes became old and worn with no new replacement. And, the animals, especially oxen, were running amuck all over the Milky Way. This made the gods angry.

Because of the couple’s reckless behavior, the gods came up with a solution. The two were to be separated from each other and go back to their own side of the Milky Way. They are never to see each other again except for one day of the year: July 7 (or August 7 in the Chinese calendar).  But the weather has to be clear or they can’t meet. If it is rainy or cloudy, the two can’t see each other until next year.

Two Lovers Granting Wishes

In modern Japan, people write down their wishes on a piece of paper. Then, they hang them on bamboo trees called Wish Trees with Tanabata-styled decorations. Other common Japanese crafts and decorations also are hung, like the paper cranes for good luck and kusudama. 

We celebrated Tanabata in my preschool classroom with the kids wearing yukata and jinbei, making Star Festival decorations, writing their wishes, and eating shaved ice. They had a lot of fun.

What kind of wish would you make today for Tanabata? Tell me in the comment below.

Hoping for Good Weather For the Lovers

I picked Dreams Come True’s “Shichigatsu Nanoka, Hare” (7月7日、晴れ or “July 7, Clear Weather) for Tanabata this year. The song was used as the theme song for the 1996 movie of the same name that starred Arisa Mizuki and Masato Hagiwara. I haven’t seen the movie, so I don’t much about it, but it is a love story about two people meeting on July 7, just like Altair and Vega. 

I always love the music of Dreams Come True, which celebrate their 30th anniversary this year. I have been a fan since I was in preschool when I was fascinated with their song “Eternity” for the 1994 animated movie Swan Princess. I love Dreams Come True for many reasons: the catchiness of their songs, vocalist Miwa Yoshida’s amazing vocals, and how the lyrics have influenced my life (and that I can relate to the lyrics with various situations in my life). I even talked about the band about two years ago when Maurice White died as the band was so famous in the 90s that they did a collaboration with the legendary singers!

I never really listen to “Shichigatsu Nanoka, Hare” before and I don’t know why. It is a beautiful song, especially at the beginning with the slow down chorus. When the song picks up, it doesn’t go too fast but it doesn’t really drag. It is a great mid-tempo song! Miwa’s vocals are also superb as always. Just listen to her singing during the interlude around the three-minute mark.

What do you think of “Shichigatsu Nanoka, Hare”? Tell me in the comments below!

The Lyrics

Here are the translated lyrics for “Shichigatsu Nanoka, Hare”, written by Miwa Yoshida and translated by me;

I want to meet you, I want to meet you
But, I cannot meet you…

I want to meet you, I want to meet you
Wished upon a star
Even if heaven went around many times, always
Even if I cannot meet you, Even if I cannot meet you
I kept on thinking
Even on a night where the stars are covered by the clouds, always

Even if a miracle doesn’t occur
Only tonight is when the two beings from the sky can meet
Good in the moment

Remember, Remember
Just only that
I will think about you even tomorrow
Be courageous

Only once during the middle of the night
did I want to believe that the phone rang
Around the same time when you were also looking
at that sky with the same feelings as I

Even if a miracle doesn’t occur
Vega and Altair will meet tonight
Let’s pray for good weather

The wiped wind in the traces of the evening
Making sounds in the neighboring garden
A bamboo leaf where wishes are written

If my eyes get used to the broken cloud
I can surely see even from this window
I want to see you

The stars that increase in number
In the clear night sky on July 7
There is only one wish I want to make tonight
I want to meet you, I want to meet you, I want to meet you

The Rules

If you want to participate, here are the rules:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to this post will eventually work, as long as you are being patient, but you can also place your link in the comments if you don’t like to wait.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Have fun and enjoy the music.

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This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. joy

    fascinating. always interesting how many chinese traditions are interwoven into korea and japan. the song hello young lovers from king and i comes to mind when i hear the story of the two young lovers. and anything with shaved ice is a good school activity in my book.

    Joy at The Joyous Living

  2. Michael

    Music is such a universal language that connects people in different level. I appreciate the art behind this.

  3. Jim Adams

    Thanks for participating again. Sadly your video did not play for me and I am late because your pingback ended up in my spam folder.

  4. Neely Moldovan

    Oh wow I knew nothing about this! I alwas love learning something new.

  5. Vannie Tran

    I was growing up hearing this story a lot. It is such a beautiful traditional one.

  6. Jen

    Oh, I wanted to watch the video but it doesn’t play. I’ve never heard of this and would love to check this out. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Stephanie

    This story is new to me, but I am always interested in the traditions and culture in other places. This song seems like it fits perfectly!

  8. Christa

    I have never heard of this day or the story behind it before. You always expose me to so many new and wonderful things!

  9. Kristine Nicole Alessandra

    I wish I could listen to the song, but it won’t play. However, the lyrics are moving and I am positive that the melody would be nice too. My wish for Tanabata would be good health for my family.

  10. Shar

    Wow, I admire traditional stories! There’s a lot to learn from them & different cultures.

  11. Angela Tolsma

    I’ve heard a few different versions of the story. They are always so sad to me. Being forced apart like that.

  12. Polly

    Your video wont play so I had to search it on youtube. It’s bittersweet. It’s so nice learning new things such as Tanabata, I’ve been to Japan before but this is the first time. As for my wish, I would wish for prosperity and more travels.

  13. Chelsea Pearl

    I never knew the story of Tanabata, thank you for sharing it! I always learn something new on your blog.

  14. Flossie McCowald

    What a neat holiday! And I love the story behind it, too. It’s always fun to learn about other cultures; I will have to tell my girls about this, because I bet they would love the idea and story behind Tanabata Day. Honestly, I don’t know what I would wish for – I’ve been so blessed, can’t think of anything else to long for that I don’t already have! 🙂

  15. Kemi

    I enjoyed the story much more. I love traditional folktales and I don’t read enough Japanese, or even, Asian tales.

  16. Viano Dee

    Where have I been? Never heard this story until now.

  17. Glenda

    I’ve never heard about it before. Although I really enjoyed the music.

  18. pooja Malkani

    I like the story, it truly depicts human nature. You always want something which you cant have. It is sad to see them staying apart. It is amazing to read your blog. It always bring out best of music

  19. maysz

    The Tabanata story so wonderful and I like the bamboo trees called Wish Trees OMG In really love to go in JAPAN I love Japanese cultures!!

  20. Arun Dahiya

    Omg, this is such a beautiful story. Wow, different cultures across the world have sometimes similar cultural folk tales.

  21. Melanie williams

    Music, I could not live without it that is for sure. Understood and loved by all xx

  22. oprol evorter

    I haven’t checked in here for a while because I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂


    music is a language that resonate with everyone. this is such a beautiful story

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