Tanabata Matsuri in Sao Paulo

Image: Cecioka, CC-BY-SA 4.0

Tanabata Matsuri is a festival that is celebrated in Brazil, especially Sao Paulo, because of the large number of Japanese that live in Brazil. “Tanabata” is the original name of the story about the two lovers. “Matsuri” means “festival” in Japanese. Put together, Tanabata Matsuri is a festival that celebrates the story of these two lovers. These two lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, are represented by two stars, and are only allowed to meet once a year when the skies are clear. The original story came from China from a tale called Qixi but was later adopted into the tale we now know as Tanabata in Japan.

Orihime was a weaver who weaved beautiful clothes by the river which is known as the Milky Way. Her father, the god of the heavens, appreciated her weaving. However, Orihime was so busy weaving, she did not have a chance to find a lover. Her father recognized Orihime’s desire for a lover so he introduced her to Hikoboshi, a cow herder that was found on the opposite side of the Milky Way.

When Orihime and Hikoboshi met, they both fell in love. However, their romance led to Orihime to stop weaving. Orihime’s father grew angry that she stopped weaving and separated the two lovers. However, Orihime grew sad, and her father saw this. Orihime’s father then allowed her to meet with Hikoboshi once a year on the 7th day of the 7th month, provided that she continued her weaving. So on the 7th day of the 7th month, Orihime tried to cross the river or the Milky Way. However, she could not cross it because it was too wide, so she became despondent and sad. Then, a flock of magpies came and formed a bridge for Orihime to cross. It is said that if it rains on the day of Tanabata, the magpies will not come and the two must wait another year to meet again.

The Tanabata Matsuri story has now become a festival in Japan and elsewhere. Because there are many Japanese that live in Brazil so this festival is also celebrated in Brazil, especially in Sao Paulo. While the original Tanabata story occurs on the 7th day of the 7th month, the date of the festival may vary in Brazil but is usually held sometime on weekend in July. And in Sao Paulo, it is usually held in Liberdade, which is an Asian neighborhood in Sao Paulo. There are also many different types of food stands at Tanabata Matsuri in Sao Paulo, just like you would find at a festival in Japan. And many people will write their wishes on paper, and hang them on a tree, just like tradition is back in Japan. And of course, you will see many kimonos worn in the Tanabata Matsuri festival, just like they are worn back in Japan.

Visitors to Sao Paulo are more than welcome to attend the Tanabata Matsuri festival held each year. However, as mentioned before, the date may be different each year so please check the calendar (it is usually held on a weekend in July). Please come visit the Tanataba Matsuri festival in Sao Paulo and enjoy the fun with other Brazillians!