Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tanabata: Japan's Star Festival

Gentle Readers,

(Does anyone besides me remember how the inimitable Miss Manners addressed her readership in this manner?)

My recent dearth of posts is due to an ongoing process of dissertation chapter revisions (so much fun!) and a series of work and personal trips that took me to St. Louis (for fun and local history), to Salt Lake City (two weeks grading the AP Japanese Language exam), and to Colorado (to see family).

In the meantime, I've begun teaching an intensively-paced, four-week course on Japanese history at the University of Kansas Edwards campus, which is located not at our usual main campus in Lawrence, but in the affluent Kansas city suburb of Overland Park. It's a great group this year, and a delightfully modest class size of 22 hardy souls, the smallest class I've taught in ... well, in recent memory.

Sunday was Tanabata, the Japanese star festival, so in the spirit of experiential learning, the students and I bedecked a tree branch (harvested from my front yard) with tanzaku bearing our wishes. Students' negai-goto (expressed aspirations) included more rain for a growing garden, finishing a marathon injury-free, and my favorite, a paper slip which simply stated "Graduate!" (I have several soon-to-graduate seniors in the class for whom this course will be their final higher ed huzzah).

Here's a photo of our branch laid at the feet of the KU Edwards campus "Academic Jayhawk" (who knew?)

Here at home, Gary and I also hung out our own Tanabata tanzaku.

I'm not much of a believer in astrology, but I figure that a humble plea to celestial bodies never hurts. 

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