Monday, August 19, 2013

Moon Viewing Event

Posted by Cara I.
SJG• 8/17/13 -
Koto performance by Marcia and Kuniko Takamura© Aurora Santiago



On Saturday night, the Garden held its annual Moon Viewing event – always special because the Garden is only open one night a year. Once a year, the stone lanterns are lit, and candles on small boats sparkle in the pond. Paper lanterns strung on trees are aglow, and luminaria along the paths guide visitors, all to complement the moonlight.

SJG• 8/17/13 - © Aurora Santiago

The event is inspired by otsukimi, or moon-viewing, festivals in Japan. The practice started in the late 8th century CE, when the aristocracy enjoyed the moon’s reflection on the water from boats on lakes and ponds. Traditionally held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar year, moon-viewing in Japan these days means eating round, white dumplings (tsukimi dango) and appreciating the beauty of the harvest moon.

SJG• 8/17/13 - © Aurora Santiago

This past Saturday, almost 300 celebrants at the Seattle Japanese Garden enjoyed an unexpectedly clear (rain was predicted!) and beautiful view of the almost full moon. Visitors sat in the orchard near the moon-viewing platform to see performances of music and dance – koto masters Kuniko and Marcia Takamura, flute (shinobue) player Yasuko Hongo Harris, and the Fujima Dance Ensemble helped us welcome the moon.

Others participated in a moon-viewing tea ceremony with Seattle Tankokai in the teahouse. Members of the Seattle Astronomical Society set up telescopes above the harbor town area so that we could ooh and ahh at detailed, clear images of the moon (There IS a rabbit  pounding rice in it!!). Inspired to creativity, many of us strolled to the east entrance where Haiku Northwest held a haiku writing contest – later, winners’ poems were recited for all to hear, including one about signs in the Garden, especially ‘Please Stay on the Path’, in which the poet noted that the moon does not follow rules….


SJG• 8/17/13  - Yashuko Harris plays shinobue at Moon Viewing celebration
© Aurora Santiago


As night fell, the entire Garden was gently lit by the lanterns and luminaria, and the many flickering, twinkling boats that volunteers launched into the pond. In spite of the crowd, the mood was serene, tranquil.

SJG• 8/17/13 - © Aurora Santiago

Throughout the memorable evening, denizens of the Garden – the koi and turtles, and the crows, squirrels, and bats we don’t see during the day – seemed perplexed but accepting of our intrusion. And the moon kindly watched over us all.

SJG • 8/17/13 • Fujima Dancers  © Aurora Santiago

1 comment:

  1. great job, Cara and Aurora! thanks for sharing this wonderful event with those who couldn't come.

    i liked the point '[...]in the late 8th century CE, when the aristocracy enjoyed the moon’s reflection on the water from boats on lakes and ponds'... [...]

    ha, now aristocracy's enjoyment of the the moon reflection belongs to all of us :)

    ReplyDelete