Community Focus – Ujsh Tsukimi No Kai Celebrates Harvest Moon

Community Focus – Ujsh Tsukimi No Kai Celebrates Harvest Moon

Rev. Akihiro Okada presents a tamagushi to UJSH president Sheree Tamura. (Photos by Jodie Ching)

The United Japanese Society of Hawaii held its annual Tsukimi no Kai, or moon viewing celebration, on Oct. 5 at Café Waiola on the campus of the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine in Kaka‘ako. Standing before an altar abundant with offerings of food for the gods and white streamers, the Rev. Akihiro Okada of the Daijingu Temple of Hawaii performed a traditional Shinto tamagushi ceremony in a lobby, where the moonlight shone in through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. With each wave of his haraegushi purification wand, guests contemplated their connection to the gods and expressed gratitude for their good health and abundance. Several community leaders and representatives of local organizations received a blessing from Rev. Okada. Each of them then placed an evergreen branch on the altar as an offering to the gods.

Attendees gathered in the Café Waiola dining area after the ceremony to partake of the food that had been prepared by Simply Ono and drinks by Lotus Spirits. Darin Miyashiro’s koto music, accompanied by Neal Shiosaki on shakuhachi (flute) got the guests into the moon-viewing mood. Chinagu Eisa members picked up the pace with their dynamic Okinawan drum performance.

The roots of Tsukimi no Kai date back to the Nara and Heian periods (710-1185) when China introduced the custom to Japan. Kaoru Nakamura-Sensei taught the guests how aristocrats and sophisticated samurai composed haiku poems at tsukimi no kai of long ago. She said haiku should be composed with layers of nature and emotions expressed purely from one’s heart. Prize baskets were awarded for the best poems of the night.

Participation was the order of the evening as members of the Iwakuni Odori Aiko Kai dance group led the guests in two upbeat bon dance numbers to close the program.

As guests walked back to their cars at the end of the evening, they could be heard marveling at the beautiful full moon. — by Jodie Chiemi Ching

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