Otsukimi (お月見) or Japan’s Harvest Moon Festival, is a custom of honoring the full moon. Celebrations of Moon-viewing Festival take place in Mid-September, to be exact, the 15th day of the eight months of the traditional Japanese Lunar calendar. Tradition has over 1000 years history. Festivals dedicated to the moon have a long history in Japan.
The meaning of this festival is expressing the gratitude of the Japanese people to the moon which is directly related to their ancient belief system. This is the best season to admire and enjoy the beauty of the moon. Because the air becomes dry as the temperature slides down gradually, and you won’t feel too hot or too cold outside while enjoying the moon for hours.
Traditional food for Tsukimi Festival is “Dango” (団子). Dango is simple confections made of rice flour. Rolled into small balls, Dango balls are boiled or steamed and often served on bamboo skewers. Dango is often served on sticks for convenient eating.
Some fast food places in Japan have special Tsukimi burgers on the menu during Moon-viewing Festival. Usually, Tsukimi burgers are featured with a fried egg inside.
Sometimes you may see the shape of rabbit in Dango. The worldwide moon looks different and people see different images on it. Since ancient times, when Japanese people looked at the full moon they invariably saw a rabbit pounding rice to make rice cakes (mochi) as an image.
Susuki (Japanese silver grass) is one of the most important parts of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The silver grass is considered to ward off bad spirits. Dango and silver grass are basically an offering to the moon god. The Japanese also serve tables with fruits, such as apples, pears, and persimmons. People also decorate their houses and outdoor by lanterns which add more festive atmosphere to this event.
Do you have any plans for Tsukimi Festival?
During Mid-Autumn Festival there are a number of entertaining competitions, such as sumo wrestling which take part in the major cities of Japan.
This year “Otsukimi” will be on September 27th. Everybody who lives and works in Japan may enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival after “Silver week”.
We wish you a great “Silver week” and Tsukimi Festival!