Do you know tsukimi ?

You probably know the hanami which is a celebration of spring, during which the Japanese picnic in the parks while admiring the cherry blossoms, but do you know its little brother, the tsukimi? A little less popular, it is nevertheless the counterpart of hanami for the fall.

Having no fixed date (it follows the old agricultural calendar), tsukimi usually falls between mid-September and early October.

What is the origin of this celabration?

mount mitake in autumn

While in the West, the full moon is perceived in a rather negative way in the collective imagination (werewolves, madness, insomnia…), it is quite different in Japan where it is associated with harvests and work. Thus, it allows peasants to work later in the fields thanks to its light and many babies are born on full moon nights because it gives strength to pregnant women to give birth. Even Princess Kaguya descends from the moon (well, Sailor Moon too!).
Thus, the Japanese are very fond of full moon evenings and the moon in general. There are 14 words to describe the phases of the moon in Japanese, including words to describe the fact that the moon is not visible on tsukimi evening, such as mugetsu (no moon) and ugetsu (moon behind the rain).

The tradition of tsukimi or otsukimi (which means “gazing at the moon”, just as hanami means “gazing at flowers”) comes from China and became very popular during the Heian period, when aristocrats recited poems, played the music and drank sake in the moonlight in the gardens or on boats on the imperial ponds in Kyoto. In autumn, the summer humidity having passed, the fresh air and the clear weather make it possible to see the moon in its most beautiful light. Just before harvest time, it is auspicious to take time to contemplate and thank the moon for the benefits it brings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *