Sunday, July 7, 2019

Illustration for Tanabata, the Star Festival | Shenmue III

Yu Suzuki has tweeted out a Shenmue-themed illustration to mark Japan's Tanabata Festival, with the words: "July 7th. Today is Tanabata."

The Tanabata Festival (七夕, "Evening of the seventh") is a Japanese festival about a legend of the stars in the sky held on July 7th at night. A young married couple, Orihime (the "Weaving Princess") and Hikoboshi (the "Boy Star") angered Orihime's father who separated from each other by the Milky Way. He allowed them to meet each other only once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month of the calendar. Legend also holds that if the day is rainy, they are unable to meet and will be forced to wait another year.

In the illustration we see Ryo as Hikoboshi and Shenhua as Orihime, with the Milky Way stretching out behind them.

The plant in the illustration is a shoot of bamboo with colorful paper pieces attached to it. In present-day Japan, people generally celebrate this day by writing wishes on small pieces of paper, and hanging them on bamboo, sometimes with other decorations. The bamboo and decorations are often set afloat on a river or burned after the festival.

Something that ties this legend into Shenmue is that Orihime's father is named Tentei, the Heavenly Emperor; in Taoism, this name can also refer to Polaris, the North Star. In past interviews, Yu Suzuki has revealed Tentei to be the mysterious leader of the Chi You Men. So the Star Festival may be more meaningful in the world of Shenmue than it may first appear...

Link to tweet

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  1. That’s really interesting about Tentei! I love little links to Shenmue like that. The north star was talked about even in Shenmue 1 by Russiya China Shop lady! I wonder if even that is some sort of cryptic nod 😋

    1. Great point! Stars and constellations definitely form an important part of Shenmue lore.