Tsukimi 月見 Moon Viewing Night
Thursday | October 1 | 6-8:30 p.m.
Tickets: Members – $10 | Public – $15
Purchase tickets in advance here
季節 Kisetsu: The Year of the Island Garden continues at Wellfield with Tsukimi 月見 – Moon Viewing Night, a special evening celebrating and honoring the Harvest Moon on October 1. Tsukimi means ‘moon-viewing’ in Japanese and has been celebrated in Japan for over 1000 years!
So how do Japanese people celebrate this special day and what is its origin?
Tsukimi has been celebrated for a long time, since the Nara period in Japan (710-794 AD) but became very popular during the Heian period (794-1185) when aristocrats would gather to admire the moon’s reflection in the water and read poetry under the moonlight. Today, Japanese people celebrate tsukimi with their families, watching the moon and enjoying foods such as mochi or tsukimi dango – round, ‘moon-viewing dumplings’ made of sweet rice flour that represent the full moon. Tsukimi has its roots as a harvest festival (rice is harvested in September and October) and is also based on a folktale about 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:
The Old Man of the Moon came down to Earth one day to test the kindness of three animal friends (a monkey, a fox, and a rabbit). Transformed as a beggar, the Old Man of the Moon wanted to know who was the kindest out of the three. He approached the friends, who were sitting around a fire, and asked if they had any food to spare. The monkey gathered an abundance of fruit for the beggar. The fox brought the man a fish. But the rabbit, who only knew how to gather and eat grass, did not have anything to give and offered to give himself as a sacrifice to the man by throwing himself into the fire and allowing the beggar to eat him. Before the rabbit could do so, though, the Old Man of the Moon transformed back into his original form. He said that the rabbit was a truly kind soul and took the rabbit to live on the moon with him. This story, passed down through generations, contributes to the old-time Japanese belief that rabbits came from the moon.
Join us at Wellfield on October 1 for Tsukimi 月見 – Moon Viewing Night and we’ll celebrate this traditional event with samples of Tsukumi dango and mochi, a wine bar from Fruit Hills Winery & Orchard (with free sake samples while they last!), and traditional activity stations around the Garden. Try some haiku stone poetry, calligraphy, and origami as you walk the Garden with a drink in your hand or enjoy sitting at a fire pit.
Tsukimi Rabbit Hunt!
Join the Tsukimi Rabbit Hunt! Two dozen small Tsukimi Rabbits are hidden around the Promenade trail. Return them to the Visitors Cottage for your chance to win prizes, including our GRAND PRIZE, a One-Night Stay-cation at the Hilton Garden Inn of Elkhart, which includes an Artisan Restaurant Gift Card and a One-Year Membership to Wellfield Botanic Gardens (or renewal if you’re already a member)!
With clear skies we’ll be able to view the full Harvest Moon as it rises and you can even take a look through a telescope. And of course, don’t miss our NEW Japanese-inspired ‘Island Garden’, a gift from Don and Jurate Krabill – it’s spectacular at night! Guests must be 21 or older to attend – – this makes a terrific date night! Capacity is limited, get your tickets online in advance. Activities subject to change.