Japanese Moon Viewing

The Arboretum is hosting its annual evening of moon viewing, fellowship and haiku on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Ornamental Grass Collection on Three-Mile Drive (near the Maze Garden). The event is inspired by Japanese and Chinese harvest traditions, celebrated by emperors and commoners alike—as an homage to the bountiful harvest and the wonders of nature.

There will be a bonfire, flute music haikus and tea. The Japanese Moon Viewing is open to the public and is free with Arboretum gate admission. For walkers, the Ornamental Grass Collection is about a half mile walk from the Oswald Visitor Center. There also is a small parking lot adjacent to the Ornamental Grass Collection, if you're driving to the event.

The Japanese inherited from China the tradition of celebrating the moon of early autumn on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month.  This Moon observance, called Tsukimi in Japan, became joined to a farmers' festival when the rice was harvested and the end-of-summer fruits and vegetables were ripe.  The day on which it is now celebrated is around the autumnal equinox, near the end of September or in early October.  The first recorded moon-viewing party was on 15 August 909, at the Heian imperial capital, Kyoto.  Records long after the fact showed that aristocrats, commoners, and even the emperor, led the moon-viewing parties and gathered to drink, sing, exchange poems, become filled with wonder and melancholy, and make wishes and offerings for a good harvest. It is still a time when pampas grass (susuki) and bush clover (hagi) are arranged near a window from which the moon can be seen.  Rice dumplings (tsukimi-dango), persimmons, grapes and pears are arranged on a south-facing veranda, so the meal can be shared with the lunar god. 


fall colors