The Tanabata story (outlined below) is celebrated on the 7th of July in Japan. It is considered a lucky day when wishes can be granted. It is also my daughter’s birthday. On her 11th birthday we found ourselves separated by the river Thames due to the (what now is known as) 7/7 bombings. Below is the version of the story I shared with the children that I made 'Celestial Cluster 02' with.
Tanabata is story of Tentei, the king of the sky and Orihime his daughter who is very good at weaving cloth. The third character is Hikoboshi a cow herder.
Orihime was the daughter of Tentei, the king of the sky, and she wove the most beautiful cloth by the banks of the heavenly river. We call the heavenly river – the Milky Way. Tentei adored his daughter and the cloth she wove and she too adored her father so she worked very hard everyday weaving it.
However Orihime was very lonely. She was always so busy weaving and had no time to meet someone and fall in love.
Tentei noticed his daughter’s sadness and was concerned for her. So he arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi a cow herder who lived and worked on the other side of the Milky Way.
When Orihime and Hikoboshi met they feel in love at first sight and got married soon afterwards. They wanted to spend all their time together. So Orihime stopped weaving and Hikoboshi stopped looking after the cows.
Tentei was angered at their behaviour. He was disappointed that Orihime his lovely daughter had gone lazy. He was disappointed that Hikoboshi let his cows wander all over the heavens. So he separated the couple. Sending them to the opposite sides of the Milky Way.
Orihime was heartbroken, her true love was gone and she spent all of her time crying and still did no work. Hikoboshi also did not work as he too was heartbroken and missing his wife.
Tentei saw how heart broken his daughter was and felt sorry. He decided that he would allow Orihime and Hikoboshi to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month, but on the condition they continued and completed their work the rest of the year. They agreed and went back to weaving and looking after cows.
When the 7th Of July came along, Orihime and Hikoboshi went to meet each other. They smiled and waved as they saw each other on the opposite sides of the Milky Way because they would soon be together again.
But then they became sad, because they realised that there was no bridge for them to cross and meet each other. Orihime and Hikoboshi were disappointed and thought that they would never meet up. Out of nowhere a flock of magpies flew up to Orihime and promised to make a bridge across the Milky Way with their wings. They did this and Orihime and Hikoboshi were finally reunited.
So every year on the 7th of July, Orihime and Hikoboshi stand on either side of the Milky Way and wait for the magpies to make a bridge so that their wish to be together can come true.