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The history and charm of Japanese autumn moon viewing, spending time with the moon


The history of moon viewing dating back to the Heian period

Moon viewing is a traditional Japanese event where people admire the beautiful moon floating in the autumn night sky. The custom of looking at the moon is said to have existed in Japan since the Jomon period. The moon has been worshiped as the god that rules the night. It is said that the custom of admiring the harvest moon was introduced from Tang China in the early Heian period. Since then, the moon has long been a beloved theme in Japanese poetry. The light of the moon has remained unchanged since ancient times, and its beauty and mystery have captivated people.

Source: Famous Edo spots that can be enjoyed with Nishiki-e

Mid-Autumn Harvest Moon

In particular, the moon that falls on August 15th according to the lunar calendar is called the ``Harvest Moon'' or ``Juugoya,'' and it emits the most beautiful light of the year. On this night, moon viewing is held to admire the full moon that rises especially bright on autumn evenings. In addition, the incomplete moon on September 13th, just before full moon, is also admired as ``Thirteenth Night.'' Autumn is the season when the air is clear and the moon is the most beautiful of the year. The height (altitude) of the autumn moon is exactly between summer and winter, making the full moon the easiest to see among the four seasons. It is also believed that moon viewing became popular in autumn, when agricultural work was at a standstill and common people had time.

Relationship between the lunar calendar and the phases of the moon: Fisheries and agriculture

Before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar used in Japan, the lunar-solar calendar was used, and this is generally called the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar is based on the waxing and waning of the moon, with the new moon being the 1st day of the month, the crescent moon being the 3rd day, the full moon being the 15th day, etc. The waxing and waning of the moon affected the rise and fall of the tides, and were easy to understand indicators for fishermen, but indicators that could not accurately measure the year were not suitable for agriculture. For this reason, the world shifted to the Gregorian calendar, which was able to accurately measure the year and was suitable for agriculture.

Source: Our design, 2023 moon phase chart

Harmony between the moon and architecture - Moon viewing and its aesthetics at Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto

Moon viewing has been held in Japan since ancient times as an event to experience the autumn atmosphere. In particular, Kyoto's Katsura Imperial Villa is known as a place that perfectly combines moon viewing and architectural aesthetics.

Katsura Imperial Villa is an imperial family-related facility built during the Edo period, and is said to be the pinnacle of Japanese architecture and gardens. The vast grounds are dotted with buildings and gardens with names related to the moon, such as ``Tsukiharou'' and ``Tsukimidai''. These were designed for the purpose of gazing at the moon from indoors or in gardens, demonstrating how important moon viewing was for the imperial family and court nobles.

Source: Kikuha Cultural Association, Tsukimidai

Moon viewing and Japanese traditional culture

Moon viewing is a part of Japan's traditional culture, and by learning about its history and customs, you can better understand its charm. The next time you go to see the moon, why not remember this history while admiring the beautiful moon?

Source: Our design

Although we live in an age where we can enjoy things and things anywhere, we believe that there are hints to enriching our lives by learning about Japan's ancient aesthetic sensibilities and ways of living. In addition to disseminating information about towns, architecture, crafts, and food that are connected to Japan's ancient aesthetic sensibilities, we also operate a select shop that focuses on handicrafts. If you are interested, please check the select shops as well.

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