What’s this? Paper bomb? Contemporary art? Or something all together different?

This here is a poem tree to celebrate Tanabata, or ‘star festival’, celebrated in Japan on the seventh day of the seventh month. That’s 7 July. People are given little colored strips of paper to write their wishes and dangle them on the bamboo branches.

The tradition comes from a romantic ancient Chinese folklore, which was introduced in Japan in 755. The story is about two sweet lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair). They loved each other so much that they kind of forgot about their day jobs. Orihime was a weaver and Hikoboshi was a cow herder. Orihime’s father became pretty annoyed that she was too in love with Hikoboshi and as a punishment he separated the two across the Milky Way to prevent them from seeing each other. Orihime was so heartbroken and begged her daddy to think again. Feeling a bit bad, he said, “okay, sweet pea. So long as you work really hard and weave and weave, you’ll be able to see him once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month.”

To celebrate the day, many Japanese people make a wish by writing them on little strips of paper called tanzaku. This can be anything from meeting Prince Charming to getting good marks on exams. What would you wish for? Me? Hmmm…a juicy, juicy bacon burger!