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Japanese Moon Viewing - Tsukimi - Japan Moon Festival

The custom of moon viewing held in mid-autumn is called tsukimi in Japan. It's said that this moon viewing custom was introduced to Japan from China during Nara and Heian periods (710-1185). Read about the Moon Festival in China.

Tsukimi takes place on August 15th in the lunar calendar, so it's called jugoya, which means the night of 15th. Jugoya in the solar calendar changes every year and usually falls on September or October. The moon on jugoya isn't always full, but it's said that the moon on the night is the brightest and the most beautiful in the year.

How do Japanese people celebrate Tsukimi? It's done in a quiet manner. Traditionally, susuki (pampas grass) or other autumn flowers are decorated in a vase, and dango (dumplings) and satoimo (taro potatoes) are offered to the moon in an alter. People look at the moon, enjoying the beauty quietly. Tsukimi also has the meaning of celebrating the autumn harvest. See how to make dango dumplings. Commonly, plain dumplings are stacked on a tray instead of skewered.

The word, tsukimi, is used in Japanese food as well. For example, tsukimi-soba and tsukimi-udon are well-known. They aren't food for moon viewing. Tsukimi indicates a cracked egg in Japanese cooking since the egg yolk resembles the moon. Tsukimi udon/soba are hot udon/soba noodle soup with raw egg toppings. McDonald's in Japan even sells tsukimi burgers, which are hamburgers with fried egg fillings.


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