Celebrating Tsukimi

Poetry for the Moon

Shizumi Shigeto Manale, the “Moon” Fool in our 2019 Christmas Revels: “Celestial Fools,” performs two poems in honor of Tsukimi — the Japanese Harvest Moon Festival.

As Shizumi relates:
For many years in Japan, it was believed that there were rabbits who lived on the moon and produced an elixir of life. When I was a child, I grew up with those stories. I remember sitting on the garden bench and celebrating my own birthday, which was around the time of the moon-viewing festival.

My mother often told me that she found me in the bamboo forest that was behind my grandparents home in Hiroshima. She told me that I was a bamboo child and that the moon sent me to my mother on the day of the Moon Festival. I was taught that the moon had magic powers, just as in ancient times people looked at the moon and created romantic and make-believes stories. I became interested in how my ancestors thought and felt about the moon, and so I have gathered and chosen more than 35 poems from 8000 ancient poems which focus on the moon. Currently, I am creating a Waka book about moon and love stories from 300 AD and the Heiyan period. I will introduce one of these Waka poems in this video.

Poem Translations:
The Sunrise  in the West
What a filed of yellow blossoms
Yet the moon in the West

How many times
have we seen the same moon?
Month after month, year after year
But there is no moon to be
compared with tonight’s moon — Anonymous 8th-century Waka poem

Preparing for the Harvest Moon

In these two videos, Reveler Mari Parker shares the Tsukimi traditions she learned as a child in Tokyo, and has now passed on to her son and grandson! Learn how they honor the Harvest Moon with food and crafts, and try your hand at making beautiful origami rabbits, in the videos below.

Tsukimi Traditions


Making Origami Rabbits

See the holidays Revelers shared in our “Revels Book of Days” — part of our “Season of Reveling”!

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