In this post, we discuss the popular Tanabata Festival in terms of its origin. This star festival of the Weaver was traditionally held on the seventh night of the seventh lunar month. It is held in July or August in modern times.
While many think erroneously that the Tanabata Festival is of Continental origin, this post by Julian Way shows that it was known in the ancient land of Hinomoto Japan long before Continental contact:
“Tanahata is a festival already ancient in Hotsuma times.”
Tanahata is a loom for ori weaving. Tanahata matsuri is indigenous to the early people of Japan and is described in the Wosite documents Mikasafumi and Hotsuma Tsutae. This passage is from the Mikasafumi document.
From Namekoto no Aya in Mikasafumi, as presented in Julian-Way:
afumi matsu / fume ni yawashite
kaze to nasu / yumi hari ni umu
iu to asa / woto tanahata no
hoshi matsuri / mochi ha miwoya to
iki tama ni / yena no hasuke no
me-wo a-e ha / a-ogi odori te
i o ukuru
Afumi is the 7th month of the luni-solar calendar of the old days. Fume ni yawashite, the heat of summer is softening.
Yumi-hari is the first quarter of the moon, the seventh day, so the night sky is dark and stars can be seen. At the end of the seven days, a ceremony is held. Cotton and asa (hemp) are spun in the ceremony called woto tanahata no hoshi matsuri. [Hoshi matsuri, star festival, where hoshi means star and matsuri is translated festival, although it meant an observance in the olden days.] This is the star festival of Tanahata.
From time immemorial, weaving was sacred work that has been entrusted to women. The ceremony of tanahata, too, was considered sacred.
The special Wosite letter wo seen in the third line of the verse has a vertical line indicating the unseen connection to the stars. Stars are honored as ancestors. The other wo in me-wo refers to male and me to female.
Amemiwoya and Universe
The origin of Universe can be understood through Amemiwoya as the Great Origin. Amemiwoya is the Cosmic Parent. Amemiwoya is like the pole star, and Kunitokotachi and the eight Kunisatsuchi sons are like the stars rotating around the pole star.
In short, weaving is precious work that makes Ame-no-nori the Law of the Cosmos visible in form. So, both the order of the world and governing were taught by likening to hataori weaving with a loom.
Tanahata is a festival already ancient in Hotsuma times.
なんと、（祖先を）仰ぎ、 踊って アメ のエネルギーを受ける・・・元気になる。
Our ancestors looked up, danced, and received the energy of Universe and –good health.
It was our tradition from Jomon times.
Long ago, when thinking of the beginning of the world and the beginning of people while looking up at the beautiful stars in the night sky, our hearts communed with our precious ancestors and started this ceremony dedicated to stars.
Image above: Woodblock print, Tanabata Matsuri in Edo by Hiroshige
Photo: Sky and Telescope
Note added: 2022.06.16. This post was prepared in 2017.06.08 and not published. Since Tanabata season is about to begin, we are publishing this post for all to learn about the origin of Tanabata and the Obon Odori in Jomon/Wosite times. For more about Wosite, please see our other site, WoshiteWorld.