My family liked the moonlight watching around Jyugoya festival. We decorated rounded Dango (sweet rice dumpling) and Japanese pampas grass beautifully at balcony. I often asked my parents many times that “ why do you decorate sweet rice dumpling to moon?” . They answered that because moon is visiting and eating it. After hearing that, I keep staying around balcony so I would like to see moon is coming my home. It was never happened but I believed it for long time until becoming teenager.
Whati is a Jyugoya?
The Jyugoya, the night with a full moon, is a kind of the moonlight watching. It’s a common name of the harvest moon. The harvest moon is a meaning of middle of autumn. From July to September was an autumn in old time, so middle of autumn is 15th August. The day is a best day of the full moon. So Jyugoya is a custom of watching this full moon.
There are many raining and typhoon in early autumn. in middle of autumn, dry windy is blowing from continent. So the season is mostly sunny and clear air. It’s able to watch beautifully moon in this season.
Later on, it was combined the moonlight watching and the harvest festival. People enjoyed watching moon and started decorating offering thing for thanks and supplication.
The decoration of Jyugoya
The main offering things for the moonlight watching is a dumpling, a Japanese pampas grass and a rabbit.
Tsukimi dango (moon-viewing dumplings) is for thanks giving to harvest. It is made by rounding powder of rice. There are variety of regional Tsukimi dango (moon-viewing dumplings).
The Japanese pampas grass is regarded as a spiritial object of God. Because the event is before an ear of rice grows, Japanese pampas grass like an ear of rice was chosen for decoration. It was said that the sharp cutting part of the Japanese pampas grass avoid a devil. There are traditional customs, the Japanese pampas grass hanging at the edge of the eaves for avoiding a devil, are seen after viewing the moon.
People see a rabbit pounding mochi (rice cake) in the full moon in japan. So the rabbit becomes the indispensable symbol on a night with a full moon.
I have ever done the moon watching since I moved to Australia. It should do again this activity for my children.
more about Japanese traditional activity
Folded Paper Crane 折鶴
The Dolls’ Festival
Day Before the Beginning of Spring Event 節分
Karuta card game かるた
Japanese Paper Craft – Origami
The History of Kendama
Tendo city to produce most of the Shogi piece in Japan
image from http://otyademo.blog2.fc2.com/,http://ameblo.jp/torayahonten/, http://www.syukado.jp