September 19, 2011

Enjoy the harvest moon with Buddha

When we see the moon, we feel romantic and associate it with the story of a beautiful princess "Kaguya" who came to the earth and went back to the moon. Children imagine the rabbits are pounding rice cake in the moon. How about you? Do you feel romantic or lunatic? Do you associate the moon with beautiful stories or the stories of werewolves and Dracula?

Every year in autumn we enjoy the harvest moon, the most beautiful moon of the year. "Moon Viewing Festival" is held all over Japan. This year it was held on September 12th.

I went to Toshodai-ji Temple in Nara for Moon Viewing, which was built as a private temple and school by one Chinese high priest, Jian Zhen(鑑真) in the 8th century.  The ritual was held solemnly before the Moon Viewing". What a gorgeous ceremony it was!!  Buddhas and Kannon were enjoying the harvest moon with us.

Two Buddhas and one Kannon, the deity of mercy and compassion were lit up. Gold leaf on them was partially fading away, but I felt more shining and glory because of it. 

The Vairocana Buddha is the main object of worship.
Merciful eyes,  the blessing hand and a  number of small Buddhas on the halo.

One-thousand-handed Kannon who has one eye on each palm.
One thousand savings hands. I wonder how many hands are needed to save us.
One of the hands is holding even a skull. What does it mean?

Healing Buddha with a halo in the shape of a medicine pot.

When the harvest moon appeared from the clouds,
the excitement quietly rippled among the people.

Since ancient days, we have admired the moon and written poems about it. Every phase of the moon has been appreciated, but particularly the harvest moon has been most loved. In autumn, praying for an abundant harvest and gazing at the full moon must have evoked the very special sentiment in farmers since agriculture had been done based on the lunar calendar.

Visit the temple on a rainy day, and you can almost monopolize it.

The temple has the very lovely gardens and serene paths.

The temple is famous for a large collection of lotus flowers.

The pond where lotus flowers grow.

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  1. Your pictures are magical! I love learning about your festivals and rituals. You always so such a wonderful job at explaining them...I almost feel like I am there.

  2. Hi

    Thanks so much for introducing the Todai-ji Buddhist statues to us. Wasn't it difficult to take those photos in the temple? Very good lighting!! Love your lotus pond photo(the last one is fabulous)!

    I've heard from Marc who kindly sent me the link that Nara and Wakayama prefectures, including their World Heritage Sites, have had the tremendous damage caused by Typhoon 12. I'm so sorry for it. So many lives have been lost, so many missing, and so many people evacuated. Kanto people have had little information about it so I'd like to know about the situation there. How are the dams? I'm very worried about them. Another typhoon is approaching. Please take care, snowwhite!

  3. What a beautiful ritual, and you took wonderful photos. Thanks for another lovely story.

    In Southeastern USA, the Harvest Moon rises enormous in the Eastern sky, and is a mellow shade of light orange...sometimes it is almost red. Our tradition tells us that the Harvest Moon got its name because it was so huge and brilliant that the farmers could continue to harvest their crops even after sundown. When I see the Harvest Moon rising, I always think of the farmers bringing the crops in to store for the Winter months ahead.

    Reading your Blog always brings good thoughts like these...

  4. Moon viewing is always soothing. I like to see the crescent moon hanging on the low sky, which makes me feel romantic, but I think I understand the full moon could make some people lunatic.

    The Thousand-armed Goddess of Mercy tries to save people by all means. 47 arms were lost in the long course of its history.

    The moon photo and the pond water with ripples and shadows of lotus pads are my favorites.

  5. These are wonderful pictures, full of the feeling of ceremony and tradition. I appreciate the way you take us through the year in your blog, explaining how the change in the seasons is celebrated. The harvest moon is noted in many cultures but we don't have a ceremony for it in Britain. We do have Harvest Festival in our churches but that doesn't really celebrate the moon.

  6. Once again you've given us a delightful glimpse into your culture and your festivals. I think it's great that you have a Moon Festival. Sometimes I think romance when I look at the moon and then when I see a full moon sometimes I think werewolves, lol. I think it is the influence of seeing werewolf movies as a young child. Your pictures are beautiful.

  7. Thank you again for your beautiful photos. They are almost otherworldly. I so look foward to your posts.

  8. I can almost feel the excitement as the harvest moon appeared amongst the clouds.

    Good advice to visit on a rainy day!

    I especially like the photo pf the lotus leaves surrounded by ripples made by raindrops.

  9. Another fascinating post and gorgeous captures! I, too, can almost feel the excitement with the appearance of the moon! Thanks for sharing the beauty and the fun with us today! Hope you have a lovely week!


  10. I didn't know there is a Sente-kannon there. And It's funny she has a skull. I remembered repair of one sentekannon on TV. One thousand hands? were placed on a cloth. I think composition of them is so hard.

  11. What peaceful and utterly gorgeous photos of this lovely tradition.

    When I lived in China, we used to watch the harvest moon and eat moon cakes to celebrate.

  12. When I look at the moon at moon festival time, I know that those I love-- but are separated from by great distance-- are also looking at one and the same object. It is comforting to me to feel a little closer to them.

  13. It is a long time ago that I visited it. I'm wondering how I'd feel when I visit now; if there's any difference.
    Your pictures convey its simple solemnity and serenity well. The full moon high above the tile roof looks beautiful with fairy thin veil.

  14. 観月には多くの人が集まったでしょうから、雨の日にまた訪れられたんですね。

  15. Thanks for a magical trip to see the harvest moon and the Buddhas!

  16. So beautiful and full of hope is the harvest moon. It is always good to give thanks for a good harvest and to pray for another in the next season.
    A lovely place to to this in.
    Thank you for sharing this festival with Our World.

  17. What an amazing place an time, you have captured the harvest moon beautifully.

  18. Linda,
    It’s interesting! Even though farmers harvest different crops in different courtiers, the moon is equally benevolent to farmers. I suppose in Japan too, the brilliant light of the harvest moon must have been appreciated by the farmers working late for harvest.

  19. you capture magical light, that last photo is remarkable. very very beautiful. I always learn so much when I visit your wonderful blog. your moon shot is amazing! happy day to you Snowwhite.

  20. Bruce Behnke,

    Thanks a lot for visiting my blog again.

    Sometimes I feel the moon so close to me. When I am happy, the moon looks happy. But, when I am sad, the moon looks sad.

    I love especially “Forest stained glass” “Healing heiau”.
    In your photos, trees themselves look like solemn columns of a temple or a temple itself.

    I wanted to leave a comment to your blog,
    But no place to leave it.

  21. こんばんわ

  22. I've never heard of this moon viewing custom! That must be so exciting! And you saw a beautiful full moon. I do remember learning about Kaguya hime when I was little. Shining princess in English, I think :D

    Hope you are enjoying the end of summer!

  23. Great entry. It's sort of shame on me that 千手観音 has an eye on each palm. I will be careful about that next time when I have a chance to see One-thousand-handed kannon...

  24. such a beautiful harvest mood. love your lotus flowers too.

  25. Wonderful pictures! Love the lotus:)

  26. Your photos offer a reverent glimpse of the temple. I'd like to see the 1,000 handed Kannon and gaze upon the ancient Buddha. Your photos offer me a glimpse even from far away in the mountains of CO. Thank You. The pink lotus and the pads are perfect in the rain.

  27. Lovely photos--the lotus flower is beautiful as is the pond with raindrops coming down, and the mysterious moon is wonderful too. Lovely post. Mickie :)

  28. True, the Moon is a great inspiration, the lady of the night.
    And alongside it, the Lotus flower. It's gorgeous. The flower in the West is comparable Rosa.
    I like so much this unite of the Lotus, Moon and Buddha.
    A hug,


Thanks a lot for visiting my blog and leaving warm messages. I will visit your site soon. keiko