Learn more about our Fabulous Fall 2020 Decor during 季節 Kisetsu: The Year of the Island Garden
Throughout Japan, people celebrate the temporal nature of the season in many ways from moon harvest festivals to autumn leaf viewing and creative displays of the Japanese imperial flower, the chrysanthemum. Experience the spirit of seasonality with repeat visits to Wellfield during 季節 Kisetsu: The Year of the Island Garden
Have You Heard the Story of the Rabbit on the Moon?
The story comes from Buddhist book Konjaku Monogatari 今昔物語, an ‘Anthology of Tales from the Past’ which contains over one thousand tales written during the late Heian period. The volumes cover various tales from India, China, and Japan. The story of ‘the rabbit in the moon, roughly interpreted, goes like this:
How a Rabbit Reached the Moon:
One night, the Man on the Moon came down to earth disguised as a beggar. He chanced upon a Fox, a Monkey, and a Rabbit (usagi) and asked for some food. The Fox brought him fish from a stream, and the Monkey brought fruit from the trees, but the Rabbit could only offer grass. So he told the beggar to build a fire, and when it was built, threw himself onto the flames to offer himself to the Man. Amazed by the Rabbit’s generosity, the beggar transformed back into the Man on the Moon and pulled the Rabbit from the fire. To honor the Rabbit’s kindness, the Man on the Moon carried the Rabbit back to the moon to live with him. Now, if you look at the full moon, you can see the outline of the Rabbit pounding mochi on the moon.
This classic folktale is often told to children around the time of the harvest moon. In this version, the rabbits companions vary. The motley crew of animals decided to practice charity on the day of the full moon. A beggar passes by and each offers something for the man but the rabbit can only offer grass. As in the Japanese tale, he jumps into the flames of their fire. The beggar reveals himself to be Śakra, the ruler of heaven. Awed by the rabbit’s sacrifice, he places the rabbit’s image on the moon for all to see. The tale even goes on to explain why the moon is grey: it’s seen through the smoke of the fire that fateful night.
China and Korea share similar tales of the rabbit on the moon, which makes sense since Buddhism and the Mid-Autumn Festival both spread throughout Asia at roughly the same time (only a couple hundred years separate the two).
Momijigari – Fall Leaf Viewing
Fall in Japan is when the country gets dyed in gorgeous red, orange, and yellow hues. Momijigari, or admiring the autumn leaves, is a custom that has been practiced for centuries. Read to learn what makes this season so lovely, and great spots for taking in the spectacular nature.
The Science Behind Colorful Leaves
There are trees with leaves that change colors in the fall and others that don’t. The colors of the leaves also vary from yellow to red and orange. The trees that have leaves that change color are called deciduous trees, and lose their leaves in the winter. Examples of deciduous trees are the maple, Japanese beech (buna), and ginkgo (maidenhair tree). Evergreen trees like the cedar and pine tree don’t lose their leaves and have the same color throughout the year.
Trees that lose leaves start getting ready to pass the winter by stopping the water supply to their leaves in the fall. The green pigment in leaves are destroyed and the red and yellow colors that were hard to see until then become more visible. The changing of color seems to begin when the morning temperature reaches about 42 to 45 degrees.