Today is TSUKI-MI (AKA OTSUKIMI, JYUGOYA) , or the Moon Viewing Event.
It is a Japanese festival celebrating the beauty of Autumn moon. The celebration is said to have started during the Heian period (late 8th century to late 12th century) on the 15th day of the eighth month on our old Lunar calendar, which falls around the 10th to the 20th of September on our current Solar calendar. The date changes each year and this year’s TSUKIMI falls on September 10th, today.
The tradition is typically celebrated by displaying SUSUKI (Japanese pampas grass) with TSUKIMI DANGO (rice dumplings). Seasonal offerings such as sweet potatoes or taro potatoes are made to pray for full harvest, thus given their other name of IMO MEIGETSU (potato harvest moon).
Back in the Heian period when the TSUKIMI tradition is said to have started, aristocrats would gather at a place where the moon can be clearly seen. While they decorated the place with SUSUKI, TSUKIMI DANGO and other offerings, the aristocrats gathered to recite their poetry under the full moon. Not only in their gardens, they even held the event on a boat so they can appreciate the beautiful moon as a reflection on water.
So look up to the sky and observe the moon tonight! Even if you may not have any DANGO to eat, you can always appreciate its beauty over a nice glass of wine or a cup of coffee or tea, and recite your poetry quietly in your heart.
Although it is not directly related to the actual TSUKIMI event, there are other Japanese dishes that are referred to as TSUKIMI. They are dishes that are topped with eggs (raw or fried) with the egg topping being perceived as full moon, thus given such name.
・UDON noodles or SOBA noodles that are topped with raw egg are known as TSUKIMI UDON or SOBA.
・Some fast food restaurants in Japan offer special Fall menus of TSUKIMI burgers which are hamburgers topped with fried eggs.
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