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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

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