The arrival of the harvest moon—the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox—always brings a certain charm as it heralds cooler weather and longer nights. So when I heard that this Sunday’s moon is a particularly rare phenomenon called a “supermoon” that coincides with a total lunar eclipse, I realized that this harvest moon is even more meaningful.
The last Harvest Supermoon eclipse happened in 1982, when I was four years old, just a little younger than my daughter is now. The next Harvest Supermoon will be in 2033, when she will be nearly the age I am today. A full circle indeed.
“...looking at the moon has long been a favorite way for me to gain new perspectives...”
Whether waxing or waning, looking at the moon and stars has long been a favorite way for me to gain new perspectives or escape from the stresses of daily life. The thrill of a shooting star is a reminder that good and bad things are equally ephemeral, underscoring the importance of embracing every moment.
In Japan, this sentiment is recognized with traditions like cherry blossom viewing parties in the spring, and moonviewing celebrations, or otsukimi, upon fall’s arrival. In Kyoto there is a temple built in a location chosen specifically because of its positioning for moonviewing.
Although its modest exterior appears quite simple in daylight, at night, a stone in the center of the surrounding lake gleams like silver orb in the moonlight, which also illuminates the temple in the pond’s reflection. Once a party venue for nobles and samurai, today, sky-gazers gather each year in boats guided by floating candles to enjoy the moonlight as it reflects off pampas grass swaying gently in the night breeze. This is why Kyoto feels like such a special place, where something as simple as a glowing night sky is a cause for celebration, and gathering with friends and loved ones to relish the moment.
This charming tradition inspired our signature moongrass motif featured on all of our interior packaging. It’s an homage to the natural beauty of the night, as well as the realization that beauty shines in different lights. Every time I hold the little patterned boxes, I am reminded of the beautiful tradition of otsukimi.
Today, otsukimi is still a festive time, when moongrass decorates many homes and many treat themselves to dango, traditional rice flour-based sweets shaped into smooth spheres that look like the moon. You can enjoy these delicious treats at home with this simple recipe, which makes approximately 18 dango:
• 1 cup of rice flour (about 120g)
• 1/3 cup warm water (about 100 ml)
1. In a large mixing bowl, add rice flour and slowly add warm water, kneading and mixing with hands. It should start to combine into a dough that isn’t too sticky.
2. Divide the dough into 15 small, round balls, about the size of a ping pong ball.
3. Boil water in the pot and gently lower the dango with a ladle into the water.
4. When the dango start to float, boil for one more minute, and then turn off the heat.
5. Add cold water to the pot to cool the water, and gently scoop onto a mesh tray and let cool.
6. Pretend the dango is the moon, eat and enjoy.
Mitarashi glaze (if desired)
• 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
• 4 tbsp sugar
• 50 ml water
• 1 tsp cornstarch
Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in microwave in 30-second intervals until sauce becomes transparent. Drizzle over warm or grilled dango.