The tradition of 月見tsukimi, or moon-viewing, parties date back to the 平安時代Heian Period when aristocrats would ride boats to see both the moon and its reflection in the water or gather to recite poetry under the mid-autumn moon when it was said to be the most beautiful (brightest) during the year, customs adopted from the Chinese culture. Traditions include eating 月見団子tsukimi dango, or round white rice dumplings that resemble the moon and decorating with seasonal produce like sweet potatoes or chestnuts and ススキsusuki, or Japanese pampas grass, what I like to call “silver grass” (easier for the Japanese to remember). The Japanese say that they see a rabbit pounding rice cakes in the moon, that’s why the rabbit is associated with the moon this season.
The first time I heard of 大覚寺Daikaku-ji’s “観月の夕べKangetsu no Yube” moon-viewing event was when Mr. Man took me mid-September 2008; he knew very well that I like light-ups and what better (natural) light than the moon?☺ I regret that I only had my cell phone camera which had no flash making it difficult to take decent pictures…these are the ones that I thought were okay enough to share.
a grove of handmade lanterns similar to what I’ve seen at the 愛宕古道街道灯しAtago Furumichi Kaido Toboshi before arriving at the entrance to the temple
where visitors who paid to view the moon while having sweets on a Chinese-style boat on 大沢池Osawa-no-ike Pond board…by the time we arrived, the ￥1200 tickets were completely sold out.
the moon by the 勅使門Chokushi-mon Gate
There were also seats on the platform of 五大堂Godai-do Hall (the main hall) for a fee that came with sweets and tea but we didn’t feel like participating in that.
心経宝塔Shingyohoto Tower lit up and reflected in 放生池Houjou-ike Pond
stone statues dating back to the 鎌倉時代Kamakura Period
lit-up bridge to 天神島Tenjin-shima Island
There were displays of artistic creations to complement the event; this one of hanging butterflies was especially my favorite.
We participated in a stamp rally to get a good luck charm, which I found out upon finishing; I took a picture of the adorable stamps before giving it up for the charm.
the simple good luck charm made of paper
The next time I went was earlier this week, six years later…this time I remembered in time to check the date and time, but I did so the night before it ended (it was early this year)! It was too sudden to invite anyone to go with me, so I went alone.
As with most events, it had become bigger over the years…the admissions booth had grown in size to accommodate all the people (there were more people than I remembered, even with it being a weekday night). I paid the admission fee of ￥500 to go into the temple and received a souvenir ticket and pamphlet as well as a stamp rally sheet for the event which I chose to forego this year. This time I went around the pond before going into the temple.
The boats were already out on Osawa-no-ike Pond.
the lit-up Shingyohoto Tower from across Houjou-ike Pond (too light to see the reflection clearly in the pond)
a better view of the statues this time
the moon peeping through the trees (seen from in front of the bridge to Tenjin-shima Island)
災落とし絵馬”misfortune-dropping” wooden plates with prayers written on them hung on 護摩堂Goma-do…there’s a cut-out of the character, 災sai, meaning misfortune, from the wooden plate which you literally punch out.
(free) seats between Goma-do and refreshment booths
the 満月法会kangetsu-houkai (memorial ceremony) which took place the last day of the three-day event
complete picture of the pond☺
the boarding area for the boats
inside Daikaku-ji Temple: the moon and Godai-do Hall
the moon and the Chokishi-mon Gate…I sat down for a bit here at the 宸殿Shinden Hall to gaze at the moon.
the moon from 村雨の廊下Murasame-no-roka Corridor
the moon around 安井堂Yasui-do Hall from 御影堂Miei-do Hall
Another boat comes in.
the moon seen outside the 茶席 望雲亭Bountei Teahouse
my souvenirs from the event, including rabbit tsukimi dango filled with red-colored bean paste from 鶴屋吉信Tsuruya Yoshinobu, a well-established company known for their Japanese sweets, that I bought on my way out
I hope I can continue going every year; next time, maybe I’ll stay longer and ride the boat.☺
Update: After the last Kangetsu no Yube, I was about to go for the following two years as well, on the last day of the event because I forgot to look up the dates of the event until last-minute😜…in 2015, Michiyo-san joined me on the spur-of-the-moment.
the scene on Osawa-no-ike Pond taken from the narrow strip of land that divides Osawa-no-ike Pond and Houjou-ike Pond
I took Michiyo-san to the Shinden Hall to gaze at the moon; unfortunately, we were unlucky this year because the moon remained hidden behind clouds for practically our whole stay.
Michiyo-san managed to get us tickets for the last お茶席o-cha-seki (tea ceremony), ￥800, of the night…the 観月席kangetsu-seki (seats for moon-viewing) were on the platform of the 本堂hondo (main hall) looking out at Osawa-no-ike Pond.
the ticket for the tea ceremony
where our tea was made
the お抹茶o-matcha (green tea) and 和菓子wagashi (traditional Japanese sweet), a 羊羹youkan probably made with sweet bean paste and chestnut paste, that we were served
It would have been sweeter if the moon had been out but I was glad to finally try the tea ceremony, thanks to Michiyo-san!💖
double lit-up Shingyohoto Tower (reflected in Houjou-ike Pond) (2016)
The weather was fickle again this year and not only was I unable to see the moon from my favorite place at the Shinden Hall, there were a lot more people milling around and getting in the way of my viewing, so I ended up cutting my stay short…but at least I was about to catch the moon shining in all its glory, like this shot that I took kneeling in the Murasame-no-roka Corridor (my favorite that night)
and while sitting on the steps of the Miei-do Hall (soon after the moon was engulfed by clouds for a while).
For a moon-stalker like me, it was worth the trip out to the event.😜