Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Photo Essay: Brilliant Colors at Tanabata Festival in Okinawa

Riding around on the southern end of Okinawa, Japan today I looked out my window as Doc Graff of ISLAND PEOPLE PORTRAITS FAME was negotiating the curves and spotted these bright colored things hanging from trees.  I don't think he saw them.  So, I yelled out, "What the Frapachino was that"?  

Er, it was something along those lines to get his attention off the highway.

We made a couple of u-turns to get a closer look and some people who had just arrived and parked their cars invited us on in to take some photos. They mentioned that it was "Tanabata".

Some of my brain cells recognized the word Tanabata but, I wasn't sure what it meant.  I didn't want to crash somebody's funeral, wedding, childbirth or 50th anniversary party with my camera so, I looked the word up in my cell phone dictionary.  It's some sort of Star Festival.  Now, I remember.

Look at the decorations hanging from the trees.  There could be a thousand of them covering acres of land.

There were paper chains, cranes, stars,  gift-wrapped boxes, streamers and DVDs hanging from the trees!

This is the kind of stuff I love taking photos of even if the sun is burning the highlights out of the pictures and the wind won't let anything stand still.  I was having a blast and forgot Doc was with me, somewhere.

He had wandered up to the house of this private property we were on and met the gal who made all these decorations.  One Okinawan gal did it all by herself and she's been hanging these brilliant, handmade decorations in her yard for over twenty years.  What a sweetheart !

In Japan it's not rude to ask someone their age.  When  I asked she (ahem) was a bit senior to me.  So, when she asked my age (ahum) I lied and told her I'm 89.  That's just to seem polite.

She was a doll.  Even went in her house and brought out some huge glasses of iced coffee for Doc and I. 

I would have hugged her but, I was sweating like a pig and smelled a lot worse.

There are all sorts of versions on the history of Tanabata.  It is celebrated in China and Japan under different titles.  I won't stick my neck out and pretend to be an expert on the subject. 

I just know it has something to do with the Milky Way, stars and some guy and gal lovers who only get a chance to visit each other on the seventh day of the seventh month every year.

We chatted awhile and got all the gals at the house laughing, thanked them for everything and headed back up north.  But, the gal who made all these brilliant colored decorations for Tanabata invited us to come back again.  So, next year when I (ahem) turn 90, I think I may visit for another glass of iced coffee and shoot some more photos.

More about Tanabata may be seen at:




Unknown said...

Could it be said that these are kinda like our Christmas decorations?

RyukyuMike said...

There ya go. Xmas in July !
Really, it has more to do with the stars but, some of the little gift boxes did remind me of Christmas.

Ryan said...

Never seen anything like this before Mike, nice one.

RyukyuMike said...

Believe it or not, I've never seen anything like this before, either.
A gal who throws her own festival and doesn't charge for drinks!

~Kelly~ said...

oh my gosh this is beautiful! Can you please tell me where this is so I can drive by tomorrow to see it? :)

RyukyuMike said...

Down south as if driving to Sefa Utaki. Somewhere between Sashiki and Ozato villages on a fairly hairpin-curving road. You can't miss the brilliant colors. Wish I could go, too; freshly showered. Give Fumiko Nakamoto a hug for me. OK?

~Kelly~ said...

Thank you very much! My husband and I are about to drive down to see them right now. It's impressive one lady made all of that. I can't wait to see it.

RyukyuMike said...

That's great! I hope my directions didn't get you lost and I hope you got some super pohotos, too!