On a Moonlit Night... *RERUN
The Japanese have admired the moon, which waxes and wanes over 30 days, and by giving it nostalgic names. Until 1872 the Japanese based their lives on the lunar calendar, which is based on the phases of the moon. At the time, it is said that people could tell what day it was by looking at the shape of the moon. Even today, traditional customs based on the lunar calendar remain in the ancient capital of Kyoto, as well as in Okinawa Prefecture where people live with the sea. In this episode of Seasoning the Seasons, we take a close look at people who still use the moon as their calendar.

The Harvest Moon

The full moon of August 15 in the lunar calendar is a special moon. The custom of viewing the harvest moon is still seen in various parts of Japan today. Taro potatoes are prepared for the occasion. In addition, dumplings, sake and crops harvested in autumn are offered to the moon deity, giving thanks for the plentiful autumn harvest.

Kyoto Confectionery

Over the centuries, the Japanese have transferred seasonal flavors into confectionery, and enjoyed them with their eyes and palates. The lunar calendar was at the center of this. At home, at tea parties, and at Moon Viewing parties, one thing that is indispensable is Moon Viewing confectionery. A 9th-generation Kyoto confectioner says, "It makes more sense for us to make confectionaries according to the lunar calendar. I would say Kyoto is a moon city."

Full Moon Festival

On Taketomi Island in Okinawa, the moon is a welcome presence that tells people when it is spawning season for fish and when it is time to sow seeds. Because of this, the moon was revered as having divine favor for fertility, and came to be worshipped by the people. On the full moon night on August 15 in the lunar calendar, the islanders celebrate the Full Moon Festival, where they pray for fertility to the deity of the moon. The 3 villages on the island each carry their decorative flagpoles, and gather in the village square. Young married couples of the island are carried on platforms. The moon deity bestows the power of fertility to the men and women of the island.