The Moon Festival

Tonight marks the Moon Festival. These beautiful pictures come from the Freer and Sackler galleries, which you should definitely visit if you ever find yourself in Washington. Or you can just gaze at their online collections...

Gibbon reaching for reflection of the moon
ca. 1910-1930s
Ohara Koson , (Japanese, 1877 - 1945) 

Moonlight
1915
Dwight William Tryon , (American, 1849-1925) 

Three hares looking at the moon
1368-1644
Ming dynasty
Obviously this is an especially auspicious Moon Festival as I am writing The Hiwau and the Moon Consort. 

The Heian Japanese believed the alignment of the planets in September allowed the Mid-Autumn Moon or the Harvest Moon to become clear and bright. Courtiers would drink sake and have moon viewing parties where they recited poetry. Special food dishes included sweet chestnuts, taro root, and dango, a sweet rice dumpling. Pampas grasses were used for decorations.

The Chinese ate (and still do eat) moon cakes, which are stuffed with sweetened lotus root, egg, or crushed beans. For them, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival was a time to worship moon deities and lunar beings, the most famous of which is Chang'e. Like many old stories, Chang'e's tale has multiple tellings, all involving punishments and moving back and forth from the moon, the sun and moon deities, as well as rabbits and elixirs of immortality.

Not the same as Taketori monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter), but similar elements.

Today I'll be working from home and writing. Maybe I'll get a moon cake somewhere...

Happy Harvest Moon