Japan Society of Fairfield County
Member's Otsukimi 2009

Ikebana On the Sound     A delightful Otsukimi, Harvest Moon Viewing, was held at a private home on Long Island Sound. We watched the setting sun and admired two beautiful Ikebana made by Japan Society members. Then we enjoyed a tasty pot luck supper including Japanese delicacies and freshly made moon cakes.
     Otsukimi is also called Jyugoya in Japan which literally means the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. It was first introduced to Japan from China in the 9th century, and it became a popular celebration among village people as a harvest festival much later during the Edo period. It is customary to prepare dumplings from specially harvested foods, such as  rice flour, potatoes, and vegetables, and serve them in a pyramid on a tray.  Decorations of Japanese pampas grass in a vase symbolize mature heads of grain bending the stalk during a good harvest.
     Harry Sakamaki, president of the Japan Society, presented the kamishibai, Takertori Monogatari (Story about a Bamboo Cutter), about the Moon Princess, Kaguyahime, who came to visit the earth but was called back to live in the moon.  The beautiful artwork for the kamishibai was lent to us by the Greenwich Japanese School.
     Once upon a time, an old man and woman lived alone on the outskirts a small village. The old man cut bamboo which grew on a nearby mountain and the woman wove this bamboo into baskets. One day the old man found a bamboo stalk from which a magical light glowed. He cut the bamboo and found a beautiful young girl inside the bamboo. They named her Kaguyahime and raised her. To their wonder she grew up into a beautiful lady in only three months. Shortly after they started caring for Kaguyahime, the old man discovered nuggets of gold in bamboo stalks he cut and the old couple did not need to work so hard weaving bamboo baskets.  The story of the couple's good fortune soon spread through the village and beyond and five prominent men came to see Kaguyahime.  They immediately proposed marriage to her upon seeing her. She told them that she could not marry all five men and said, “I will marry the man who brings the thing I want most”. But the five men were not able to present her with what she wanted most and gave up their suits. Then the autumn season came and Kaguyahime began to see the moon in the sky and wept every night. The old man and woman grew concerned and she confessed that she was from the moon and had to go back at the coming full moon night. The old man had grown rich and famous and sought the emperor's help in keeping Kaguyahime on Earth where she was happy. The troops sent by the emperor were defeated by the bright light from the moon and Kaguyahime quietly ascended to the moon.
     This was followed by a slide presentation of Otsukimi festivals at different shrines in Japan. By this time, the moon had risen and we all went outside to see if we could see the princess, the man in the moon, or the rabbit on the moon’s face.
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