Related post in spanish: Tsukimi, septiembre el mes para contemplar la luna en Japón
In Japan, September is the month that welcomes the Moon, and a moth were chrysanthemums flowers all over the place, a rainy month, and the time for a very particular celebration, Tsukimi 月見(To gaze the Moon)
The ninth month, when the peaches bear fruits, and in its nights, the Moon shows all her splendidness, that’s the reason why Japanese people celebrates her beauty. Even if it has been long in the tooth, there’s no certainty with the date to hold this celebration, and it is usual to organize events through the half of the month.
This is a tradition that has its origins in China but, was adopted by Japan trough the Heian Era (794-1185), it was highlighted by the prosperity of arts and Japanese culture. Throughout this time, the only ones allowed to celebrate the Tsukimi were the Imperial Court. There offerings to Moon’s god, “Tsukuyomi no Mikoto”, were made and from the gardens of the Imperial Palace, the astonishing view of the Moon was admired.
Nowadays, Japanese agricultures and families celebrate thanking the Moon for the harvesting season. They use the seven fall’s herbs to make offerings (Hagi, Susuki, kusu, Nadeshiko, Ominaeshi, fujibakama and kikyō), and rice cakes “Tsukimi Dango”, seasonal fruits, green tea are also shared among the people during the celebration.
During this celebration, the sticky rice cakes are considered essential, because it is believed that the Moon’s rabbit prepares the same. Asian and some Mesoamerican cultures believe that the Moon’s craters have the shape of a rabbit. And in the case of the Japanese, they say you can see the rabbit kneading mochi
“Mochitsuki” (餅つき) is the Japanese way to say kneading mochi, and surprisingly it coincides with the pronunciation for Full Moon (望月), hence the importance of the offering of a pyramid of mochi’s dangos to celebrate the Tsukimi.
Over a table-like construction made from cypress wood called “Sanpo” the dangos are organized, in some cases it is written as 三宝 “Three Treasures”, sometimes as 三方 “Three Sides”. The names are related to the three holes that the base of the table-like object have in the same number of sides. These holes are called 刳形（くりがた) “kurigata”, they are carved into the bottom of the table with the shape of an inverted mushroom.
To organize the mochi balls onto the Sanpo has a protocol too. Usually, this altar for the offerings to the goods is made after the 15th night of the month. Therefore the pyramid is made of 15 dangos: nine for the base, the next layer four, and the last only composed by two.
Now you know how to be prepared to welcome the fall. Do not forget to thank the Moon’s Rabbit!
Translated by: Luis Alfredo Cardona
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