Courtesy of Wikipedia

The harvest moon in Japan is celebrated with a small festival called o-tsukimi (お月見), which for 2020 is celebrated on October 1st. In the old Japanese calendar, this holiday is always observed on the 15th day of the 8th month, but with the modern solar calendar this day moves around.

Otsukimi literally just means “moon-viewing”, that’s what the holiday basically is. The family gathers outside, gazes up at the moon, and enjoys some dango pastries among other things.

Moonlit nights often remind me of a certain poem from the famous Japanese anthology, the Hyakunin Isshu, which I wrote a whole blog about. The poem, number 7, involves a certain official named Abe no Nakamaro (安部仲麿, 701-770) who had come to the Tang Dynasty Court in China as part of a diplomatic mission. It is said that Nakamaro gazed up at the moon the night before he was scheduled to sail back home and composed this poem:

天の原Ama no haraAs I gaze out, far
ふりさけ見ればFurisake mirebaacross the plains of heaven
春日なるKasuga naruah, at Kasuga,
三笠の山にMikasa no yama nifrom behind Mount Mikasa,
出でし月かもIdeshi tsuki kamoit’s the same moon that came out then!
Translation by Professor Mostow

Sadly, his return trip failed, and the ship was blown off course to the land of Annam, where he then trekked back to China and eventually passed away never seeing his homeland again.

May readers enjoy a bit of moon-viewing and a bit of inspiration tonight!

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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