If you look outside the window, you’ll see that tonight is a full moon. And we’re lucky to have a nice clear sky to see it in. I’m almost certain most people in the UK will not pay much attention to the moon tonight, but in Japan they actually have a special celebration dedicated to the viewing of this full moon, called お月見 (otsukimi). You’ll notice the kanji for this is quite literally the words moon 月 (tsuki) and to see 見 (mi) put together.
Originally brought over from China, this tradition of gazing at the moon began in the Heian period (794-1192) in Japan. It was thought that autumn was the best period, as it was not too cold and the sky was clear, but also for some reason, on the 15th night of the 8th month of the lunar calendar (September for us), the moon appeared brighter. The Japanese have always been enchanted by the moon, and the aristocrats would even gather and recite poetry as they looked up at the sky.
Today many homes decorate an altar with a vase of susuki (pampas grass) and other autumn flowers, as well as a plate of 月見団子 (tsukimi dango) and sometimes even taro potatoes, as offerings to the moon. Tsukimi is a nice time to gather with family and simply appreciate beauty. It also marks the beginning of a new season and celebrates the autumn harvests.
Now according to the Japanese, there is a rabbit who pounds rice cakes on the moon. So enjoy the view, and take a good look. If you’re lucky, you may just spot him… 😉
(Feature image source)