Muhammad Yunus, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work tackling poverty through his successful application of the concept of microcredit, will be speaking at Rikkyo University next Wednesday from 1.30pm – 3.30pm.

I’m a big fan of his perspective on poverty & business, and the latter’s role in helping others (see interview here).

There’s limited spaces for this free event. You can sign up here.

Unfortunately I have an exam from 2.50pm, so I’ll miss the last 40 minutes, but I can’t think of a better way to take my mind off the exam in the hours leading up to it!

This week we celebrate Tanabata in Japan – the Star Festival.

From our good friend Wikipedia:

Tanabata, meaning “Seven Evenings” is a Japanese star festival, derived from Obon traditions and the Chinese star festival. The festival is usually held on July 7, and celebrates the meeting of Orihime and Hikoboshi. The Milky Way, a river made from stars that crosses the sky, separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year. This special day is the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar.

In the days leading up to Tanabata, you ‘ll find little bamboo trees shooting up all over the place, such as these in the long underground passage leading from Ikebukuro Station to my university.

Under the trees are tables, on which you’ll find pens and little pieces of coloured paper (Tanzaku), on which you may write your wish before tying it to the tree.

These are then burnt, or set afloat upon a river around midnight on the day itself.

Let’s hope that string is biodegradable and that the ink is made from soy!

Tanzaku tied to bamboo branches

Two schoolgirls admire a photo of a particularly funny wish on one of the Tanzaku

The blue Tanzaku reads: “Sekai ga heiwa de arimasu yo ni” – a simple wish for world peace.