Moon-viewing Festival : Tsukimi

Japanese culture has long been attune to the shifting rhythms of nature. From ancient times to modern day, Tsukimi (mid-autumn moon-viewing parties) are often held around the full moon on the fifteenth day of the eighth month on the traditional Japanese lunar calendar.

 View of Full Moon from the Scaffolding Beneath A Bridge, with City on the Left by Katsushika, Hokusai, woodcut. 1890-1940. Found here.  Moon viewing celebrations were often held on boats for better access to viewing the reflection of the moon over water.

The tradition of celebrating the full moon originated in China during the Heian period (794-1185). During the Edo period (1603-1868), moon viewing events also served as harvest festivals as farmers turned viewing the full autumn moon into an agricultural celebration.

During Tsukimi, ornaments and decorations are placed near windows and other areas visible to the moon. Pampas grass (susuki) and autumnal flowers are used as decorations while seasonal foods such as rice dumplings, pears, persimmons and grapes are placed on dishes. Rice dumplings are a popular treat since they are shaped into round balls, just like the moon.

Moonviewing at Shinagawa by Nishimura, Shigenaga, woodcut, 1726. Found here.