As the weather starts to cool down, my thoughts start to turn to cozy sweaters, fall leaves and pumpkin flavored everything. Mmmmm pumpkin.
But outside of my pumpkin obsessed quests, my thoughts also turn to Otsukimi or moonviewing. Before I started working at Shofuso, I wasn’t familiar with the Japanese holiday dedicated to the autumnal moon. As an educator, I feel like a big plus of my job is getting paid to learn about and be exposed to new things on a constant basis. Plus, Otsukimi combines two of my favorite things: autumn and full moons.
Festivals dedicated to the full moon have a long history in Japan. The tradition was started by the Chinese and adopted by the Japanese. The most beautiful full moon of the year, according to the traditional Japanese calendar, is the full moon on the 15th day of the eighth month. On the evening of this full moon, it was tradition to gather in a place where the moon can be seen clearly. Decorations including Japanese pampas grass, white rice dumplings (known as Tsukimi dango), taro, edamame, chestnuts and other seasonal foods are displayed. Sake is also offered to the moon in thanks for an abundant harvest.
Also, did I mention the rabbits?
As a kid, you may have looked up into the sky and looked for the man in the moon. In Japan, kids look for a rabbit pounding mochi on the moon. Rabbits are big during Otsukimi. Sweets and mochi are shaped into impossibly adorable bunnies almost too cute to eat. Nom, nom, nom. I said almost.
Another Otsukimi tradition at Shofuso is our Harvest Day Field Trips. School groups can tour the house, see our Otsukimi display, watch a taiko performance, make origami usagi (rabbits), hear traditional stories and see kimono demos. I hope you can join me this year at Harvest Days and enjoy learning about Otsukimi as much as I have. To learn more about the event visit: http://www.japanesehouse.org/education/special-field-trip-days/harvest-day-field-trips/