Autumn is the best time of the year for moon-viewing, a very popular activity in Japanese culture. To an ignorant person the moon can be full, half or simply gone. To a true moon enthusiast every night has its own unique moon. The thin waxing crescent moons, "Second-day moon" and "Third-day moon", have a special quality. And so has the Jûsanyazuki, the "Thirteenth-day moon", which is two nights before full moon - and of which the one of the ninth month (mid-October) is thought especially beautiful. I could go on for ever, but the most popular moon is definitely the harvest moon, Mangetsu or Jûgoyazuki, the full moon on the 15th night of the eighth lunar month (late September).
Last autumn I posted a series about moon flowers on this blog. I'm reposting the photo that was rated the most viewed, to give you all a renewed feeling of the magical autumn moon.
Waxing moon ikebana (slanting variation no.4): Japanese maple and white Chrysanthemum in a moon vase.
The harvest moon seems to be bigger, brighter and more colourful than other full moons. And since there is no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise at this time of the year, the farmers could continue working to bring in their crops, hence the name.
If you are in Japan and not busy with the harvest you can visit the Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto, which is known as a moon-viewing palace. The villa, that was built by Prince Toshihito in the 1600s, is famous for its minimal and orthogonal design, and has been an inspiration to modern architects such as Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius. This villa is constructed to offer especially enjoyable viewings of the moon. The drawing rooms with their sliding screen doors are aligned exactly to provide the best view of the harvest moon, and the Gepparo (Moon-wave Pavilion) sits perfectly positioned for viewing the reflection of the moon on the water. It all sounds amazing.