Edison Birthplace Celebrates Japan’s Tanabata Festival

For over 7 years now, the Birthplace has been involved in the Tanabata Festival of Yawata City in Japan .  The Festival is based on a myth about 2 stars that appear on either side of the Milky Way in the summer sky.  Orihimi (Vega) was the weaver of heavenly cloth for the sky gods and Hikoboshi (Altair) was a lowly cowherd.  They met each other at the Ama-no-Gawa (Milky Way) and fell in love.  They began to neglect their work in order to be together.  Orihimi’s father, the sky god Tentei, forbid them to see each other. They pleaded with him and he relented and allowed them to be with each other for one day of the year.  The festival, dedicated to remembering the two lovers, is celebrated all over Japan and in China.  Since the heart of the festival celebrates the lovers’ wish to be together, wishes are written on wide strips of paper and hung on the branches of bamboo trees as the main feature of the festival.  Where does Mr. Edison come in?  For about 10 years Edison brought bamboo from the forests of Mt. Otokoyama above Yawata City(a suburb of Kyoto) to make filaments for his light bulbs.  He is very revered in Japan and there is a large monument to him on the mountain. Milan, where Edison was born, is a sister city to Yawata City and has been since the early 1980’s, when a Japanese businessman, Saburo Tatemoto, established the Kyoto Otokoyama Edison Association and reached out to Milan and the Birthplace for friendship. Many happy exchanges of people and gifts have been made over the years, especially artwork from the elementary school in Milan and the children of Yatawa City.  This year the Birthplace, Milan school children and the mayor and children of Yawata City are going to try a SKYPE session by computer during the festival! This is a first!  They will talk to each other through interpreters and the Director of the Birthplace and the mayors of the two cities will talk.  The object is to continue to bring friendship and increase respect between two places who can claim to be special for Thomas Edison.  Happy Tanabata! May all your wishes come true!