• Mariko Oku

星に願いを~日本の七夕の起源~  Wish upon a star ~ The origin of Japanese Star Festival~


今宵は七夕ですね。

Tonight is the day of Star Festival!

一年に一度、天の川で離ればなれになった二人が出会える日。

この織姫・彦星伝説は、中国では「乞」は願う、「巧」は巧みに上達する、「奠」はまつるという意味の「乞巧奠」(きっこうでん)という行事でお祝いされ、機織りの名人である織姫にあやかって、裁縫や手習いの上達を願いました。

This is the day when two lovers in the sky, Hikoboshi the cowherd and Orihime the weaver, who fell in blind love so much that they are eventually separated by the angry Sky God, can meet in the Milky Way river between them once a year.

In China,this legend is celebrated at the court wishing for the progress of needlework to have a share of talent from the master of weaving, Orihime.

その「乞巧奠」(きっこうでん)が、遣唐使によって奈良時代に日本に伝わり、宮中行事として取り入れられるようになりました。

The Chinese court event was introduced to Japan by Japanese envoys to Tang in the 8th century, which was also followed as a traditional custom at the Japanese Imperial Court.

貴族たちは、芋の葉に受けた天からの夜露で墨を擦り、星に願いをこめながら、ハート型の梶の葉に和歌をしたため、川に流しました。

Court nobles rubbed an ink stick with drops of the evening dew from the heaven on the taro leaves wishing upon the star,and then they wrote down their wishes in the form of Japanese poems on the heart-shaped leaves of paper mulberry.



梶の葉の梶は、船を漕ぐ「かじ」となり、天の川まで、願い事の船が漕がれ、天に届く、と言うお話は、とても風流ですね。

The paper mulberry is pronounced as “ 梶(kaji),” which is a homonym of “舵(kaji),’ meaning a helm, which means that the helm of the “kaji” leaves would take their wish leaf boat to the heaven and their dreams would come true.

That sounds so tasteful, isn’t it?


そして日本では、織屋に籠り、神様に捧げる布を織る清らかな乙女を、「棚機つ女」(たなばたつめ)と呼びますが、この「棚機つ女」(たなばたつめ)の伝承と「乞巧奠」(きっこうでん)がまじりあい、現在の七夕になったと言われています。

In Japan, we also have a tradition of offering silk textiles to heavenly deities, which were woven by pure maiden named “Tanabatatsume.” She holed up in a hut alone to weave the sacred silk fabrics on a loom all day long in this July season.



子供達と一緒に、七夕飾りを沢山作りました。

Enjoyed making lots of decorations for the Star Festival with my little kids!


織姫と彦星が会えるよう、明かりを捧げる提灯

This is a lantern, whose lighting illuminates the way of the star lovers ,Orishime and Hikoboshi.


大漁の願いを込めた、網飾り

Don’t you think it’s like a fish capture net?

Japanese make this net decoration wishing for a large catch in the sea.



織姫の織り糸を表す吹き流し This symbolizes the weaving yarn of Orihime, the weaver Star princess.

厄を移し、身代わりになってくれる紙のお人形の神衣 This is a paper doll decoration that will replace you and take over all bad lucks,

飾りには、それぞれに重要な意味があります。

Each item has each significant meaning.




最後に、この飾りと願い事を書いた短冊と、神様の宿る依り代の笹に飾り付けます。 Finally, we wrote our wishes on paper strips and hang them on bamboo leaves with other decorations.




そして、七夕の行事食といえば、おそうめん。

織姫と彦星が出会えるように願いを込めて、天の川そうめんを作りました。 Somen, Japanese very thin wheat flour noodles, is a very indispensable traditional meal for the Star festival.

This year, I made original Somen with Hikoboshi and Orihime on top, wishing for their success of the once-a-year meeting in the Milky Way.





今晩,、星の恋人の一年に一度の逢瀬が成就し、二人の愛が、宇宙に溢れますように。

Cross my fingers for the Star couple, and hopefully wish for their power of love would overflow into our universe tonight!

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