Dear friends! It’s September, it’s the month of Moon. Yes, in Japan, at least since the Heian era in the 9th century, it is a time when people willingly rejoice that the Moon is seen in the sky. They are waiting for it to be full in the full moon and are holding parties called Watching the Moon, in Japanese “Tsukimi”. And when there are parties, there is also food and drink and also thinking, meditating about life. For Tsukimi, dishes are prepared to celebrate the harvest. Rice harvest and potato harvest. Rice is made for instance into Tsukimi dango balls – it’s just a white ball that resembles the moon. Meals are made from mushrooms, chestnuts, nuts and many other autumn gifts. In Japan alone, they have more than a dozen species of potatoes of different taste and shape, and every potatoe gets attention. Why, because from one potato grows a lot of other potatoes and it symbolizes and promises abundance. Who wouldn’t want abundance and health? Before winter comes, we must be strong and resilient.
I don’t know what people want and think about when they look at the moon in September, which shines in the sky as round as an egg yolk. They look at Moon even when it’s raining – Ugetsu, or even when it’s not visible – Mugetsu. No moon. They have a special name for everything in Japan, because it’s very important to look and think, and be thankful just for being alive. Surely you know a Japanese painting with a round moon and Susugi grass. Yes, the reminder that rice will be harvested plays a role here and it is appropriate to thank. Susugi resembles a rice plant. It would be foolish to draw a trunk of rice straight there, for Susugi will amplify the rice even more. How? well, because we have to think. There’s a puzzle, right! Isn’t that nice? Or a picture of rabbits beating on the moon omochi. Why rabbits? I don’t know, it could also be people, but rabbits are prefered – probably it’s better to transfer the responsibility to the rabbits. The important thing is that the rabbits beat omochi and mochi is rice and most importantly, beating mochi is called “mochitsuki” and it resembles the word “tsuki” and it’s the Moon. Doesn’t that give you a good enough story? It does not matter. It is important to play. Playing with words and playing with images and symbols, the Japanese really like it. And so I don’t think they would be bored when watching the moon. Not at all. Surely, just like watching the spring sakura – Hanami, or watching the snow in winter snow – Yukimi, they remember what happened last year and what happened ten years ago and what happened when we were children. Things are both happy and sad. Melancholy always belongs to the Japanese experience. Even looking at the Moon.
When Watching the Moon is a topic at the Japanese tea ceremony, a piece of melancholy is always mixed in there. Wabi, sabi. Remember… The moon on the scrolls in the tokonoma niche is always light in the clouds. It’s not a moon shining like a round egg in udon noodle soup. It’s a veiled egg, a mysterious egg. It’s beautiful. Freely. Unspoken. And so it is with us humans. We are beautifully unsaid, unfinished.
With regards of the autumn beginning, Your Miyabi Darja