Star Festival in Hokkaido

On August 7th, the night of Tanabata, the Star Festival according to lunar calendar, groups of children walk around neighborhoods knocking at each door singing "Ro-so-ku da-se-yo" meaning "give us candles," or we will scratch you. (The phrases vary from region to region.) Then residents give them some sweets. This practice originated from an old tradition of visiting neighbors to ask for candles during Obon, the period that ancestor's souls are said to come home. Recently most residents serve children sweets instead of candles. This is similar to "Trick or Treat" in the Halloween of Western countries, isn't it? Although there are only a few towns in
Hokkaido who still observe this annual event, children in those areas look forward to the local event and enjoy it every year.

December 10, 2004