O-Tsukimi, the Moonviewing Festival

Moonviewing, or O-Tsukimi in Japanese, is the practice of gazing at the full moon and enjoying its sacred beauty. Since 1990, Portland Japanese Garden has scheduled this beloved annual event to coincide with the harvest moon, which occurs anytime from September to early October. There is no better place in Portland to share the romance and mystery of this special custom than from the eastern overlook of the Portland Japanese Garden Pavilion with its views of the city skyline and Mount Hood.

Monday September 16th / 6:00 – 8:30pm

Tuesday September 17th / 6:00 – 8:30pm

Wednesday September 18th / 6:30 – 9:00pm

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At Moonviewing, guests can:

  • Start the evening with a light vegetarian meal catered by Obon Shokudo, accompanied by a koto (13-stringed zither) performed by Mitsuki Dazai in the Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation Courtyard on some nights, and by a shamisen (3-stringed instrument) performed by Yumi Torimaru on others. Joto Sake and Japanese lager by Pfriem Family Brewers will also be served.
  • Stroll the lantern-lit garden. Along with O-Bon (The Spirit Festival), this is one of only two events each year in which our stone lanterns are illuminated.
  • Move to the Mount Hood Overlook and anticipate the moonrise with a cup of Jasmine Pearl Tea and an opportunity to compose haiku as shakuhachi (bamboo flute) music performed by Kodō Araki on certain nights, and by Patrick Johnson on others, wafts through the air.
  • View a candle-lit tea ceremony in Kashintei Tea House led by different tea masters, including Barbara Walker, Sayo Tanne, and Marjorie Yap-Tenney.
  • Appreciate a special display of ikebana accompanied by tsukimi dango. The 15 white rice cakes symbolize the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, when Moonviewing was traditionally celebrated in Japan. Nana Bellerud’s ikebana will feature plumes of miscanthus (susuki in Japanese), representing the bounty of rice plants, which the plant resembles.
  • Admire the raked gravel in the Flat Garden, designed in a special, once-a-year checkerboard raking pattern called ichimatsu in Japanese; the alternating squares of white river gravel cast shadows in the moonlight.
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Mitsuki Dazai performing Koto at Moonviewing, 2023. Photo by Jonathan Ley

Event Notes:

  • Please note that there are three separate evenings available for Moonviewing this year: September 16, September 17, and September 18.
  • This event will take place rain or shine.
  • Photographers are asked not to bring tripods or use flash photography.
  • Tickets benefit Portland Japanese Garden’s cultural programming.
Kodo Araki performing shakuhachi at Moonviewing, 2023. Photo by Jonathan Ley

About O-Tsukimi

O-Tsukimi (literally, “looking at the moon”) is the practice of gazing at the harvest moon, the full moon in mid-autumn, and enjoying its beauty. In Japan, the custom of holding these celebrations is thought to have been started by aristocrats in the Heian period that lasted from the 8th to 12th centuries. Courtiers gathered for an elegant evening to admire the full moon, drink saké, recite poetry, play musical instruments, and pray for good fortune and an abundant harvest.

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