Tsukimi or O-tsukimi (月見)
is one of the most celebrated festivals in Japan. It is held to honor
the autumn moon and thank the moon god for a plentiful harvest. The term
Tsukimi literally means ‘moon viewing’ in English. True enough, if you
intend to participate in a Tsukimi festival, expect that there will be a
moment to view and admire the full moon.
How it all began
O-tsukimi festival began in the Heian era (794 to 1185). During this
period, Japanese aristocrats gather themselves and recite poetry under
the light of the full moon. In the Japanese lunisolar calendar, this
gathering usually falls on the 8th month. They believed that the 8th month is the best month to look at the moon because the positions of the Earth, sun, and moon further illuminate the night sky.
on, the event is not only centered on poetry reading. Decorations were
made. Japanese pampas grass (susuki) was put into place. Tsukimi ryore,
sake, and other food were shared by everyone viewing the moon. People
who attend the gathering also begin to thank their moon god and pray for
another bountiful harvest. Hence, the O-tsukimi festival tradition as
we know it today.
when the moon is not visible or there is rain, O-tsukimi festival is
still being held. The Japanese call it Mugetsu (no moon), or Ugetsu
Setting up your garden for the O-tsukumi Festival
make your garden ready for the O-tsukimi festival, set up a long table
either on one side or in the middle of your garden, whichever would be
aesthetic and practical. Line bowls of seasonal crops like chestnuts,
persimmons, taro, plants, and rice dumplings atop your table. This will
serve as an offering to the moon good for an abundant harvest. You can
light up at least two candles for each of your stone lanterns or add
additional solar lanterns to bring more light to your garden.
the moon slowly splashes golden light over your area, serve some
steamed buns, gnocchi, sweet potatoes, fruits, and bread with taro to
Performing an O-tsukimi tea ceremony
from sharing a few meals, people gathered in an O-tsukimi festival
would share tea. The O-tsukimi tea ceremony begins with the host’s
careful unpacking of tea utensils. He will then wipe them with a clean
piece of neatly folded clothing.
chawan or tea cup is warmed, rinsed, and dried. The chashaku or tea
ladle is dipped into a dish of vibrant green matcha powder. It is used
to measure the quantity of matcha to be put in each cup or bowl.
Thereafter, steaming hot water is slowly, artistically, and precisely
poured into the tea that it would appear as if there is a steam right
above the bowl. The chasen or tea whisk will be used to whip the
concoction until foam covers its surface.
matcha will be served with small treats, usually wagashi or mochi.
After the ceremony, all the tea utensils will be cleaned, and placed
again in their boxes. This is a sign of respect to guests.
Complete your garden and your tea sets before O-tsukumi festival. Check out our site for Japanese tea sets and Japanese lanterns.