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Phases of the Moon

Cultural Quintessence

Japan In-depth

Kateigaho International Edition

Phases of the Moon

The moon is 384,400 kilometers from Earth—far indeed!
Over the centuries, we have asked much of a moon shining so far away. Our moon reflects the sun. By the time that light reaches us, an interval of 1.28 seconds has passed. The romance of light delayed recalls the vastness of space. Looking at the moon as reflected light reminds us we are mere children of the cosmos.

text by Tatsuya Matsui

The new moon. Sun, moon, and Earth align; moon is not seen. The term also refers to the thin sliver becoming visible.

Second-day moon (by lunar calendar). This slender crescent is also called mayuzuki (eyebrow moon).

Third-day moon, or waxing crescent. Actually, the term applies to thin moons that are three-to five-day-old crescents.

Jôgen-no-tsuki / Nanukazuki
Upper bowstring moon, seventh-day moon. Right half of moon is bright. When it sets, the drawn-bow shape faces upward.

Thirteenth-day moon. The moon on the 13th night of the ninth month (actually, mid-October) is thought especially beautiful.

Little full moon, the 14th-day moon (by lunar calendar). The term refers to the moon nearing its full phase, or mochizuki.

Mangetsu / Jûgoyazuki
Full moon. On the 15th night of the eighth lunar month it is called harvest moon, beloved for beauty and subject of offerings.

Sixteenth-day moon. After sunset, it seems to hesitate in the twilight before rising, hence the term izayoi (hesitating) moon.

Seventeenth-day moon. As moonrise becomes progressively later, the name suggests "standing and waiting" for it to appear.

Eighteenth-day moon. Even later to rise than the "standing and waiting" moon, this is "sitting and waiting moon."

"Sleeping and waiting moon," or the 19th-day moon. Edo-period Rimpa school artists loved this lemon-shaped moon.

Twentieth-day moon (by lunar calendar). Still later to rise, it bears the name implying "waiting late into the night" to see the moon.

Kagen-no-tsuki / Nijûsan yazuki
Lower bowstring moon, 23rd-day moon. Left half of moon is bright.

Twenty-ninth and 30th-day moon (by the lunar calendar). A dark, moonless night, this date is also called "moon shadow."

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