July the 7th is a festival day called "Tanabata (Seven Evenings)." This is the very day when Orihime and Hikoboshi meet each other just once a year across the Milky Way.
Orihime(Vega,left) weaves cloths and Hikoboshi(Altair,right) breeds cattle in the heaven.
On this memorial day we celebrate, from the ground, their rendezvous with the offerings of livestock miniatures made of the first harvested vegetables in the season.
In those days, we could have early summer vegetables only in the season. We put short-cut chopsticks into the body of eggplant, cucumber, and corn to compare them to the legs of cattle and horse miniatures. The miniatures were put under the bamboo bush. I still wonder what the meaning of the customs was. Cattle and horse were once useful animals for farming.
I remember it was really a pleasant festival in my childhood. Rather, it was one of the important ceremonial events of the season. We went to a vegetable field early in the morning to gather crystal-like dew on the broad leaves of taro.
Then we grind down an ink stick using the dew to make India ink. With the ink and a writing brush, we write our asking and wishes on the tablets. The tablets are hang down on bamboo leaves expecting they will convey our wishes to the heaven and be granted by God.
I recall the old days when I firmly believed it and gathered the dew in earnest What had I asked God ? To be skillful in writing characters, to be friend with him and her. As I grew up a little, I wished for a sound life of family, passing of exams, and so on. In a summer night, I look up faint flickering of the stars on the background of vague cloud of the Milky Way, calling back my dear old days.
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