• 2019.07.24
  • Celebrating Tanabata in Portugal
Every year we have regularly held a Tanabata event at Saturday Japanese school after morning assembly.
A few years ago, we watched an anime about the Tanabata legend. One year there was an explanation about where the Milky Way is. And in another year, a teacher from Sendai showed us photos of the Sendai Tanabata Festival. This year, a student's mother read a book to the children.

Before going into class, we take a commemorative photo with everyone in front of the decorated sasa (bamboo grass).
It's a small event, but with the bamboo grass decoration, and this being the last class before summer vacation, the kids look forward to it.

To ensure we don’t let the children down, the first thing the parents must do is make sure we have some bamboo grass. As you can imagine, bamboo and bamboo grass don’t naturally occur in Portugal, so the parents have to figure out how to get our hands on some of it.
Until a few years ago, a staff member posted from Japan always used to cut one or two stems of the thin bamboo growing in the garden of the house where they lived and brought them in, but after that staff member was transferred, we started looking for bamboo grass every time we went out.

But the parents’ wish reached heaven, just as if we had entrusted our prayer "Please give us some bamboo grass" to a paper prayer strip (as you do at Tanabata). To our amazement, we found bamboo grass growing at the condo where a newly arrived Japanese family were living.

So, once again, this year we managed to pull off another Tanabata event without any trouble, surrounding the bamboo grass.
The bamboo grass was thin, perhaps because it was growing in Portugal, but it did its job and the Saturday school children put their hearts and souls into their Tanabata wishes.

Now, at our place too, the bamboo grass branches my children brought home are still surviving.


  • Megumi Ota
  • JobConservator, interpreter, and coordinator / Insitu (restoration), Kaminari-sama / Novajika, and others

I’m a conservator and preservationist living in Portugal. I specialize primarily in paintings (murals) and gold leaf design, and am involved with UNESCO World Heritage structures as well as the interior of the Palace of Belém. I derive great satisfaction from having close ties to my community in the rural village near the Silver Coast where I live. My hobby is gardening.

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