Wednesday, September 22, 2010

O-Tsuki-sama! (Mr. Moon!)

Riding east on my bicycle, I glanced up at the horizon and thought, "That's a funny...looking...NOT a cloud!  Ooooh!  The moon!"

I managed not to fall off my bike.

The moon was faintly visible just above the rooftops in the distance--if it had been dark, it would have been the biggest harvest moon I'd ever seen.  But even a ghostly outline of the moon that big is impressive against the pink of twilight.

It's moon-viewing month in Japan.  Round, white sweet dango, one of them yellow like the moon.  You're supposed to sit outside, or on the veranda, eating dango while gazing at the moon.  I actually did that with my husband at the beautiful Sangendo Garden in Yokohama while we were still dating.  Best. Date. Ever!

The moon from our back porch.  Since we're on the fourth floor, we actually have a pretty good view, all things considered.  This means it's time to sing the Rabbit Song:

O Rabbit
Rabbit hop
Look, he's hopping in the moon
In the great round of the full moon
Look, he's ho--o-o-o-pping

(Usagi, Usagi
Nani o mite, haneru
Juu-goya O-tsukisama
Mite, ha-ne-ru)

That's my *favorite* children's song in japanese.  It's stately and slow, almost like a Gregorian chant.  It's positively haunting.  They see a rabbit in the moon in Japan.  So, I think, do the French.  At least, they have a children's rhyme about the three little rabbits in the moon, who eat prunes while drinking wine ("Il y a dans la lune, trois petits lapins...").  In Japan, it's actually two rabbits making mochi, or so I've been told.  I've been here long enough that I'm pretty sure I can see at least one rabbit, and sometimes I think I can see two.  But...shhhh....i don't think there's really any mochi up there...

Can you see the rabbit?  No?  Maybe a little closer look...

If you tilt your head alllllll the way to the right, you can see the rabbit... really.  (Above photos also taken of this evening's moon off our back porch.  I managed not to fall off the fourth floor balcony.)

p.s.--  my daughter just came to look at the pictures of the moon that mommy took.  She insists that she can see the rabbit...:))

p.p.s.--alert reader Daz was smart enough to put Moon Rabbit into Wiki where there is a lovely diagram, just in case the rabbit proves elusive:))  A little history from Wiki:

"The Moon rabbit, also called the Jade Rabbit, is a rabbit that lives on the moon in folklore, based on pareidolia that identifies the markings of the moon as a rabbit. The story exists in many cultures, particularly in East Asian folklore, where it is seen pounding in a mortar and pestle.[1][2] In Chinese folklore, it is often portrayed as a companion of the moon goddess Chang'e, constantly pounding the elixir of life for her; but in Japanese and Korean versions it is just pounding the ingredients for rice cake."


  1. Okay, I cheated and googled for a diagram, but once I'd seen one I came back and looked again, and could see it plain as day.

    The tail is at Nubium, the back legs are Tycho, the body is made up of the various maria, curling round to end up at the ears; Feocunditatis and Nectaris.


  2. Oops, BTW...

    The large photo is overlapping the right-hand panel, on my screen. I'll mail you a screenshot.

  3. ooh, hadn't heard the actual song before-- haunting indeed! Similar to that other ancient tune, you know, the one sung by the yaki-imo man ;-P I always laugh when you tell the story of the first time you heard the yaki-imo man...

    But the rabbit song really IS beautiful!

  4. @daz--every time I use the xl size photo, it overlaps like that:(( And being a dingbat, can't fix it myself.

    @ann--don't you love it? Makes you feel connected to ancient tradition. If I could find the yaki-imo song online, I'd post that, too (with story:))

  5. ok--I fixed the overrun by switching back to the L size photo instead of the XL size. But I like the XL size! There isn't enough difference between M and L to me. Anyway, I don't get why the XL size doesn't just go to the edge of the column since that's how it looks when I'm typing in Edit. Grrrrrr....

  6. Is there not a setting the lets you set a custom size in pixels? It still links to a huuuuge pic though, so you're fine.

    BTW, I cheated - I had to look up the name of Mare Nectaris. I always forget that one.