Words By: Amanda Jean-Mary20161008_143410

A bamboo tree full of colorful wishes swayed gently in the breeze on Saturday during the 12th Annual Experience Asia Festival at the Bloxham-Lewis Parks in downtown Tallahassee.

Residents visited the Tanabata table in the Japan section of the festival to write and hang their wishes on the bamboo tree and pray for their wishes to come true.

Tanabata is a festival also known as the Star Festival, in Japanese culture celebrating the meeting of two Japanese deities.

Crystal Scott, a dual-enrolled Florida State student, manned the Tanabata table for the festival, explaining the purpose of the Star Festival.

“It’s all based on an old Japanese folktale about two lovers who were separated in the sky and o20161008_155131_film1nly meet once a year,” Scott said.

Scott has participated in the festival for three years now, helping festival goers with their wishes.

“They write their wish on a piece of paper and either they can hang it up themselves on the bamboo tree or I will go hang it up for them,” Scott said.

Mackenzie Medich, 24, and Julia Wischmeier, 23, both students at the Florida State University College of Law, wrote wishes for the bamboo tree.

“It always helps to have good karma,” Wischmeier said.

However, besides making wishes, residents could also read wishes, praying for those wishes to come true as well.

“I thought it was sweet to think about your wish and think about what’s important to you,” Medich said.

“And then we were actually looking at other people’s wishes and saying, ‘Oh, I hope that comes true for them.’ I guess that’s actually the point of it.”20161008_152328_film1

The Tanabata area was just one section of the Experience Asia Festival. The festival was hosted by the Asian Coalition of Tallahassee (ACT), a non-profit organization that unites the Asian communities of the Big Bend and promotes Asian culture.

Besides the Tanabata area, the festival featured arts and crafts, cultural performances, and a variety of appetizing cuisine from other Asian cultures.

Mitchell Herring, a member of the ACT for almost a year, attended the festival a few times before becoming a member and was surprised this year.

“It’s definitely one of the best turn outs,” he said. “This is easily the largest [event] and it takes a long time to plan, so we spend most of [every] year putting this together.”

With such a huge turn-out, the bamboo tree held what seemed hundreds of colorful paper wishes on its branch, fluttering in the breeze with hopes for world peace, a better path to happiness, and continued cancer remission.

Maybe next year, they’ll have to bring a longer bamboo tree.

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