It is also a great time to enjoy looking up. Viewing the evening sky when I was growing up, we would look for "the man in the moon". Moon viewing, "tsukimi" in Japan, has been popular in Japan for centuries, and the royal palaces which K and I visited in Kyoto as well as Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture (subjects of future posts) all had moon viewing platforms or rooms for holding parties or writing poetry inspired by the moon.
Many of Japan's tales in folklore are adaptations of older Chinese stories and beliefs. The viewing of the moon and various celebrations of it arrived in Japan and were practiced by the aristocracy over one thousand years ago during the Heian period.
About four hundred years ago, at the beginning of the Edo period, Samurai would offer rice cakes to the moon on August 15 (mid September of the new style calendar) of the year that a child reached the age of 16. A hole would be made in the rice cake, through which the child would view the moon. As with many Samuri traditions, in was copied by the rest of society and became popular.
In Japan, children look for the Rabbit in moon, which is supposed to be up there pounding rice cakes. There is also a legend that a giant katsura tree grows up there. The months of the year here are simply referred to by numbers one to twelve, but there are names for the months from the lunar calendar which was used before the new style calendar was adopted in 1873. Sometimes these older names are used in speeches or letters to convey a feeling of the season.
August is called "hazuki" which means "leaves". One interpretation is that it refers to the leaves turning and falling. But it seems a bit early in the year for that. When we were up in the Japanese Alps, the leaves only started to turn in the begining of September, and later than that at lower altitudes. So I prefer the other meaning which is that hazuki refers to the leaves of the giant katsura tree on the moon which is viewed at this time.
Today is rainy as off shore the typhoon 'Maria' is blowing past us paralleling the coast of Honshu as moves northeast, but the preceeding days have offered beautiful skies and the moonrise pictured above.
Beneath the sun and moon, a neighbor's tigerlilly is determined not to have its beauty go unoticed.
Clouds come from time to time -
and bring to men a chance to rest
from looking at the moon.