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Celebrating Otsukimi at Home!

Tsuki no Usagi scroll

Our Otsukimi Moonviewing exhibit is quickly approaching. Join us at our annual event, and consider bringing the celebration home with these stories and activities!

Otsukimi, a cherished Japanese tradition, is a celebration of the autumn harvest and a time to come together with loved ones to admire the beauty of the full moon. Although this holiday is traditionally observed in public spaces like parks and temples, its essence can be equally cherished at home with friends and family!

The Tale of the Moon Rabbit:

A long time ago, there was a Moon God who decided to visit Earth in the form of a man. As he wandered the Earth, he grew hungry and tired, so he decided to spend the night in a quiet forest.

In this forest, he encountered three animals: a clever fox, an agile monkey, and a humble rabbit. Being human at the moment, the Moon God asked them for some food to satisfy his hunger.

The monkey sprang into action and climbed a tree, gathering delicious fruit to share. The fox darted off to the nearby river and came back with a tasty fish. But the poor rabbit was at a disadvantage because he couldn't climb trees or swim like the monkey and the fox.

The Moon God, impressed by the teamwork of the monkey and the fox, asked them to help build a fire to cook the food. Together, they gathered sticks and ignited a fire.

The little rabbit, despite not being able to catch food, displayed a remarkable act of kindness. He felt so thankful for the help he'd received that he offered himself as food for the man. He was willing to jump into the fire to help the hungry traveler.

Just as the rabbit was about to make this selfless sacrifice, the man revealed his true identity. He wasn't an ordinary traveler; he was the Moon God. Touched by the rabbit's extraordinary act of kindness, the Moon God decided not to eat the rabbit.

Instead, the Moon God rewarded the rabbit's generosity by taking him to the moon.

highlighting the imagery of the rabbit in the moon
Can you see the rabbit pounding mochi on the moon?

So, if you gaze up at the full moon on a clear night, you might just spot the outline of a rabbit. He's up there, making a special treat called mochi, as a reminder of his kindness and the Moon God's appreciation for his selflessness.

The word "Mochitsuki," which means "mochi moon," sounds similar to "mochizuki," the term for the full moon, forever linking the rabbit's mochi-making to the celebration of the full moon.

Mochi and Paper Crafts for Otsukimi at Home:

In Japan, making and enjoying mochi (sweet rice cakes) is an integral part of Otsukimi. You can try your hand at this classic mochi recipe from Just One Cookbook, a popular Japanese social media chef.

just one cookbook tsukimi dango

You can also create rabbit-shaped manju, adding a playful touch to your celebration!

If mochi ingredients aren't readily available, don't worry, Otsukimi can be celebrated with charming paper crafts! The Japan Society's video provides an excellent guide on how to make origami rabbits, allowing you to engage in the artistic side of this lovely festival from the comfort of your home.

Most importantly, take time to enjoy the outdoors as Phoenix begins to cool down. Enjoy the beauty of the full moon this autumn and see if you can see the rabbit in the moon!

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