SASCOC receives Tanabata gift from Japanese Embassy - SASCOC
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SASCOC receives Tanabata gift from Japanese Embassy

The Deputy Head of Mission of the Japanese Embassy, Mr. Shuichiro Kawaguchi and his delegation presented a beautiful gift of goodwill to SASCOC on Thursday 3 September 2020 at Olympic House in Johannesburg.

The people of Iwanuma City (one of the host towns for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games) made the special “Tanabata” gift for SASCOC to encourage the people of South Africa who are suffering from COVID-19 and also inspire our athletes as they continue to prepare for the Olympic and Paralympic Games that are being held in Tokyo, Japan in 2021.

Tanabata is the romantic day from the fable of Princess Orihime and her husband, Hikoboshi, who can only meet on that day. The two are separated from each other and are made to stay on each side of the Milky Way and they are only able to cross the Milky Way to see each other once a year.

As a widely popular custom across Japan, people pray to the stars by writing their wishes on colorful paper strips and hanging them together with Tanabata ornaments on bamboo on the night of July 7 every year.

Some of the ornaments include:

– “Orizuru”, the art of paper cranes; a symbol of longevity, the cranes are folded from origami paper and are wishes for a long life.

– “Fukinagashi”, which imitates the threads offered to Princess Orihime (a skilled weaver) and represents people’s wishes to improve their sewing skills.

– People write their wishes on five-colored paper strips called “tanzaku” and hang them on bamboo.

The encouraging Tanabata gift that includes handwritten messages from people from Iwanuma, their handcrafted “orizuru” and works of a local origami artist to show their support for South Africa, arrived in South Africa on August 25, which is equivalent to July 7 in the Japanese lunar calendar.

From Iwanuma city, which is 14,000 km away from South Africa, we hope that we can overcome Coronavirus together and meet at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games as Princess Orihime and Hikoboshi are reunited.

The gift was delivered to the Japanese Embassy on 25 August 2020. After its arrival, it was decorated on a bamboo tree.

The bamboo is about 3 meters long. “Tanabata” is the name of a festival that takes place in July or August in Japan, where people decorate the bamboo with wishes.

SASCOC sincerely extend their gratitude to Iwanuma City, the Japanese Embassy delegation and all the people who were involved in making this beautiful gift. We look forward to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2021.