In Japan, around the Mid-Autumn Festival period, various moon-viewing events are held across the country. This article will introduce when the Mid-Autumn Festival will take place in 2023, the ideal way to spend your time during this festival period, Tokyo locations where you can appreciate the beautiful moon, and restaurants where you can relish a delicious meal while enjoying the scenic night view. Feel free to use this article as a guide to make the most of this special time of the year.
What Is the "Mid-Autumn Festival"?
The Japanese term for the Mid-Autumn Festival is actually mid-autumn moon. This refers to the moon on the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calendar.
According to the lunar calendar, the months of July through September are classified as autumn, and since August 15 falls in the middle of this season, it is called "mid-autumn." Moreover, over a span of 15 days, the moon progressively waxes and wanes from a new moon to a full moon. In the lunar calendar, the day of the new moon was designated as the first day of each month based on the phases of the moon. As a result, the 15th day of the lunar calendar corresponds to the (almost) full moon. Due to the belief that autumn showcases the moon at its best, the moon on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month got the special name "mid-autumn moon."
Moon-viewing is a custom from China. In Japan, moon-viewing parties were originally hosted at the palaces where emperors resided starting at the end of the 9th century. In this way, since ancient times, the Mid-Autumn Festival has been celebrated with elegance. People composed waka poems (a form of traditional Japanese poetry) while gazing at the moon and observing its reflection in ponds.
When Is Mid-Autumn in Japan?
By the way, it is widely acknowledged that the moon exhibits its most captivating beauty during the Mid-Autumn Festival, but have you ever wondered why? The phenomenon is actually attributed to both the autumnal atmosphere and the moon's position in the sky. In Japan, autumn brings in traveling anticyclones—a large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure—that dry the air, resulting in clear skies with little moisture or dust. Additionally, as the moon approaches a higher position in the sky during winter and a lower position during summer, autumn becomes the ideal season for moon viewing, as the moon's elevation is just right for optimal appreciation.
What to Do During the Mid-Autumn Festival?
Furthermore, given that the Mid-Autumn Festival coincides with the potato harvest season, offerings of taro and sweet potatoes have become customary to celebrate the potato harvest. Grapes, too, find their place in these offerings, as their vines are believed to foster a favorable connection between the moon and humanity, bringing with them good fortune.
Recommended Moon Viewing Spots in Tokyo
Every year on the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, an event called the "Moon-Viewing Stair Walk" takes place, where participants can climb approximately 600 steps of an outdoor staircase to reach the Main Deck. The outdoor staircase, which is normally accessible from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, is specially opened until 10:00 pm on this day.
Though the notion of tackling nearly 600 steps might sound daunting, the ascent can be accomplished in a mere 15 minutes. On the event day, there are rest stops along the way with dumplings and silver grass on display, allowing you to also enjoy the culture behind the Mid-Autumn Festival.
For updates regarding the event, please refer to the official website!
The spectacle of the moon from Japan's tallest structure is simply awe-inspiring! Why not indulge in a lavish moon-viewing encounter while also relishing the city's nocturnal expanse at Tokyo Skytree?
Mukojima Hyakkaen Garden
The "Tsukimi no Kai" (moon-viewing party), held annually for three days before and after the Mid-Autumn Moon, stands as a time-honored tradition tracing its roots back to the Edo period (1603-1868). Throughout this event, the garden extends its operating hours until 21:00, in contrast to the usual closing time of 17:00. This extension allows visitors to relish the enchanting nighttime panorama of the garden, illuminated by both moonlight and lanterns.
Date and time: Thursday, September 28 - Saturday, September 30, 2023, 9:00 - 21:00 (last admission at 20:30)
Recommended Restaurants for Dinner in Tokyo
XEX ATAGO GREEN HILLS / Salvatore Cuomo Bros. (Onarimon / Italian)
Moreover, within the premises, you'll find [tempura & sushi An], an enclave for Japanese cuisine serving sushi and tempura, as well as [The BAR], promising a lavish and sophisticated experience for adults.
XEX ATAGO GREEN HILLS / Salvatore Cuomo Bros.
Average price: [Dinner] 15,000 JPY / [Lunch] 5,500 JPY
Access: 4-minute walk from Exit A5 of Onarimon Station on the Toei Mita Line
Address: 42F, Atago Green Hills MORI Tower, 2-5-1, Atago, Minato-ku, Tokyo Map
Series the Sky (Tokyo Skytree / Chinese)
Series the sky
Average price: [Dinner] 15,000 JPY / [Lunch] 4,000 JPY
Access: Right in front of Tokyo Skytree Station's main entrance
Address: E3105, 31F, 1-1-2, Oshiage, Sumida-ku, Tokyo Map