Japan Foundation, Sydney recently celebrated the Japanese Tanabata Festival by hosting a children’s art workshop at Sydney’s Object Gallery. And luckily for us at CtrlGeekGirl, we were able to tag along and join in the fun!
For those who don’t know what Tanabata is, Tanabata is also known as the ‘Japanese star festival’ — based on a story of two stars (and lovers) Orihime and Hikoboshi who are separated by the Milky Way and are only able to meet once a year on July 7.
Not only did we learn about Orihime and Hikoboshi’s story but we also got the chance to write heartfelt wishes on pieces of paper called ‘tanzaku’ where we then attached them to tree-installations. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Tanabata festival without the colour and decorations, so we also tried our hand at origami and kirigami.
Renowned artist Chaco Kato was also there to celebrate with the kids as she provided the backdrop of blending Japanese traditions with contemporary art to stimulate the children’s creativity and imagination.
You could tell how immersed the children were with the art workshop as they went from one table to another making different origami such as samurai hats and bamboo ornaments. Even the parents joined in the fun!
One by one, the kids hung their tanzakus on the trees, making wishes from wanting cool superpowers to having pets to wishing better health for their family members. And as we slowly reached towards the end of the session, we come to realise why Tanabata is special to people of Japan.
Just like the story, Tanabata gives the chance for children (and adults) to reflect, dream and place hope in the future. This is something that we as a society don’t often encourage young children to do nowadays, especially through a traditional story-based event.
And while these kids probably wouldn’t understand the significance and underlying messages of the Tanabata festival, it’s good to see a young generation of kids with good heart, mind and soul.
Stay tuned for the interview with Artist Chaco Kato!