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Monthly Feature Story-September 2019-"Otsukimi" (Moon Viewing)

Cultural Tips-"Otsukimi" (Moon Viewing)

One of the signs that autumn has arrived is the custom of moon viewing called "otsukimi". The best day for 2019 will be February 13th September if the sky is clear.

The moon was considered especially beautiful in the eighth month in the lunar calendar, which the traditional Japanese calendar was based on, from the end of August to the beginning of October in the solar calendar.

Originally, influenced by Chinese custom, nobles of the Heian court(794-1185) had a moon viewing party, enjoyed music and composed poetry.

By the Edo period (1603-1867) the moon viewing had come to be a popular practice, even among commoners, and also served as a harvest festival to express gratitude for a good harvest and to wish for a large yield with offering to the moon.

These offerings to the moon consist of a stack of 15 rice dumplings, pampas grass and freshly harvested produce like taro and chestnuts, which are traditionally decorated on a veranda or by a window.

The round dumplings represent the full moon and the number the 15 matches the fifteenth night. Pampas grass represents the bounty of rice plants, as its ear resembles that of rice.

What about the offerings?

We eat them! It is believed that eating these offerings brings good health and happiness to us.

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