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Tanabata -Star Festival-

July 7th is Japanese star festival known as Tanabata (lit: the seven evening), which celebrates the meeting of the star Vega and Altair. Legend says that these lovers are allowed to see each other only once a year on July 7th, separated by Milky Way except  that day.

Nowadays, we usually celebrate the day by writing wishes on small pieces of paper and hanging them on bamboo branches. Vega was believed to be good at weaving and people would think that “I want to be as good at weaving or so as Vega.” or “I wish I were as good as her.” So, the bamboo filled in peoples’ wishes are displayed in hopes that their wishes reach to Vega in the sky.

In my area, the bamboos with colorful papers are displayed here and there. I wonder what people are wishing to the star. My wish is….let me think about while enjoying teatime. 
Tanabata decolation at the local sweets shop -photo by tomo-


- traditional Tanabata song-
"The bamboo leaves rustle,shaking away in the eaves.
The stars twinkle on the gold and silver grains of sand.
The five-colour paper stripsI have already written.
The stars twinkle, they watch us from heaven."
                                 translation: -Wikipedia-

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A Sign of Good Luck -Chabashira-

Have you seen a tea stalk floating vertically in your teacup when you have Japanese green tea? When you see it, you will have a good day. Because it is believed to be a lucky sign.

A tea stalk floating vertically is called chabashira (lit: tea pillar).  Seeing a chabashira, we feel happy, saying “Engi(luck) ga (is) ii (good).”

The origin of this expression is unknown, but some say it is because that the situation is rare. Others say that a pillar for chabashira can be considered the central pillar of a house. We liken a chabashira floating vertically to a house pillar standing vertically, considering it is good.

Whatever the reasons, when you find a chabashira, be happy!

Hope all of us will enjoy our tea lives in 2014:-)


Kombucha - in English vs in Japanese -

Have you tried kombucha before? I suppose kombucha you may know could be “fermented tea”, but for Japanese, it’s not. It’s a drink made from powdered kelp called kombu

What you call kombucha was popular when I was a kid as “kocha-kinoko”, literally means “black tea mushroom”. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? It was not appetizing AT ALL to me, as a little girl. Due to such a weird name, I remember its existence, but I was too scared to try back then. 
Recently, I found a canned kombucha made in the US. I am already grown up enough to try, and I did. I did green tea and lemon flavored one. Unfortunately I didn’t taste any green tea, but as a drink it was good. Much better than I expected. 
BTW, Japanese kombucha is also good to drink and to season foods. When you have a chance, give it a try!




* FYI  -frm Wikipedia -

<History>  It is not known exactly how or where kombucha originated from.The drink was consumed in east Russia at least as early as 1900, and from there entered Europe.
<Etymo…

Matcha or Maccha

Do you spell “matcha” or “maccha"?
The other day, I was asked which one is correct from the perspective of Japanese language. I replied, “I guess either is fine." 
As long as I know, the spelling of “matcha” is more common while the other one is not often seen here in Japan. However, I just learned that a new tearoom opened in Kyoto. It is named “Maccha House.”  ------  OK, I have to research now. 
Japanese language has a double [long] consonant known as sokuon that English doesn’t. In order to represent sokuon in English, there is a basic rule that the consonant has to be doubled. (based on Hepburn System) For example;  * kite ( "come") – /kite/ * kitte ( "postage stamp") – /kitːe/ or /kitte/ * asari ( "clams") – /asaɽi/ * assari ( "easily") – /asːaɽi/ or /assaɽi/                       (Reference: Wikipedia)
If you follow this rule, “maccha” seems to be correct, but there is an exception. In case of the sound of “cha”, ”chi”, “chu”, “che” and…