5 Things That Make O-tsukimi ~Moon Viewing~ a Special Evening

guests enjoying the Garden Party
guests enjoying the Garden Party

O-tsukimi, moon viewing, dates back to 8th century Japan, when on the 8th month of the old Japanese calendar, aristocrats celebrated the beauty of the autumnal full moon with poetry and music.  By the 17th century, the tradition spread to farmers and townspeople, incorporating elements of a harvest festival into the admiration of the moon's rays.

The Japanese Garden offers guest a chance to partake in  this exquisite celebration--with its own unique twist.  Here are 5 things that make o-tsukimi a special evening.

1.The garden at night has its own serene magic.  As the light dims, our visual senses give way to sound, smell, and touch.  The trickle of the stream, the faint smell of moss, the crunch of the gravel underfoot, all become heightened in our experience as we stroll through the garden, centering us with every step.

2. The garden bathed in candlelight stunning.  That said, the visual experience is also a treat.  Our strolling paths are lit up by more than 500 luminary bags and delicate rice paper lanterns with flickering candles.  The stone lanterns will be illuminated with candles as well, beckoning from a distance.  And finally, the boats floating across the pond at dusk--that's a beautiful sight one won't soon forget.

3.  The musicians are top notch.  The night air is a welcome conduit for the ethereal music played live by our talented guest musicians.  Guests will have a chance to enjoy the sounds of koto, shakuhachi, cello, and bamboo flute float through the expanse of the garden.

4. The moon up close is even more mysterious.  Thanks to volunteers from the Seattle Astronomical Society, guests are offered an up close and personal view of the full moon through powerful telescopes.  Japanese legend has it that the lunar contours reveal an image of a rabbit pounding mochi--you can see for yourself if this is true.


5. You can channel your inspiration into poetry--and win a prize for it, too.  All this beauty naturally makes one feel very poetic.  Master haiku instructors from Haiku Northwest will be on site to help you translate that inspiration into a perfectly formed haiku.  The contest is open to all, and the best poems are awarded prizes at the end of the evening.

O-tsukimi takes place only once a year, and is happening on Saturday, August 29 at 7p.m.  General admission tickets are $15.  Quantities are limited and they will sell out prior to the event.  Purchase yours here.

Rumi Tsuchihashi is the Stewardship and Events Coordinator at Seattle Japanese Garden, and the blog editor.