October 06, 2006

Moon Viewing

Today was designated as the day to view the full moon. There is a full moon every month, but it is the harvest or autumn moon that is celebrated. It is called jugoya which means the fifteenth day. Moon viewing sometimes falls on the fifteenth of the month. It is determined by the lunar calendar so the date varies.

Rabbits are a part of the decorations. It was believed that a rabbit was on the moon pounding rice into mochi, glutinous (sticky) rice, with a wooden mallet. Pampas grass and taro are also used as decorations. This little rabbit is looking at a tray of dango, the traditional treat for moon viewing.

Round dango, balls of glutinous rice, are sold, displayed and eaten. They are placed on a tray like the one above. Some people display a tray of dango and place it facing east. That is the direction the moon rises. There are manju pictured on the poster. The marks on them are supposed to look like rabbit ears and eyes. They are supposed to look like round, fat bunnies.

Here are two origami rabbits. They are part of the display above. Click on the picture above to enlarge .

These are the dango I bought.

These are manju. They are not sticky like dango or mochi. They are round cakes filled with sweet atsuki bean paste. Usually the bean paste is red, but these manju have yellow bean paste to resemble the harvest moon. The box can be assembled into a tray.

This is a detail of the box of manju. It is a picture of the rabbit on the moon pounding rice.

This shop of Japanese sweets had a corner where customers could sit. Sometimes a sample of a sweet and a small cup of tea are served as they wait for their purchases to be packed into boxes and wrapped. Sweets shops still wrap purchases.

A sink is provided at this shop for washing up. This is an unusual and pretty sink.

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