Author: Karen W.
Editor: Aika M.
Translator: Theo F.
Original Language: Japanese
At the advent of Autumn in Japan, several cultural themes emerge and affect different aspects of life – be it literature, sports, or even cuisine. Amongst which, today we would like to write about Tsukimi, or the Moon-viewing festival in English. Throughout history, the moon has always been involved with Japanese cultural practices. Let’s learn more about Tsukimi!
1. What is Moon-viewing?
Moon-viewing is an autumn tradition where friends and family gather and appreciate the beauty of the celestial body. On Tsukimi nights, it is said that the moon can be seen in its brightest and most elegant state. Although, based on the lunar calendar, the festival is also called “the fifteenth night,” Tsukimi usually falls on a different day each year. In 2021, it falls on the 21st of September, a Tuesday.
2. The origin of Tsukimi
Back in the Heian Period of Japan, nobles and aristocrats had the custom of holding banquets under the lunar light. The tradition even spread to peasants later in the Edo Period. Moreover, the Tsukimi tradition coincided with the harvest season and thus became a festival amongst peasants where they show gratitude towards nature and the moon. In combination, these traditions slowly developed into the modern moon-viewing festival.
3. Moon-viewing Offerings
In reality, Tsukimi is not just a festival where you stare at the moon. Special offerings are made to be thankful towards a successful harvest.
The three main offerings are silver grass, moon-viewing dumplings, and agricultural products. Silver grass is said to protect the harvest and be the symbol for good harvest. Round little Moon-viewing dumplings – modeled based on the moon – are the symbol for gratitude. Agricultural products, mainly sweet potatoes and chestnuts, are usually crops successfully obtained from the season.
Conforming to the festive atmosphere, let’s make some Tsukimi dumplings!
Ingredients for 15 pieces
Dumpling flour 100g *
Room-temperature Water 80ml
Boiling Water (amount as you see fit)
Cold Water (amount as you see fit)
*Dumpling flour : available in supermarkets or 100-yen shops
- Slowly mix dumpling flour and room-temperature water in a bowl; knead them until they are as hard as earlobes
- Divide them into 15 equal pieces and roll them into sphere shapes
- Put them into boiling water for 2 minutes
- As they float up to the surface, wait for another 3 minutes and drain the hot water afterwards
- Dip them into cold water
- Drain all the water
＊Sprinkle some red beans or soybean flour for an even better taste!
As you can see, Tsukimi dumplings are pretty easy to make. We hope you’ll get creative and enjoy your once-a-year Moon-viewing festival!