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Moon Over Japan

Cultural Quintessence

Japan In-depth

Kateigaho International Edition

Kateigaho International Edition

KIE Index

Reflecting Upon the Moon
For a thousand years and more, Japanese have gazed at the moon's reflection in a tray of water. Moonlight by its very nature is indirect—reflected sunlight—and thus is perhaps best appreciated when seen indirectly. Today when we catch sight of the moon's image reflected in some giant, mirrored surface, such as the face of a skyscraper, we are taken aback. That incomparable reflection remains as captivating as ever.

photographs by Tsunehiro Kobayashi, Tadayuki Naito
translation of poems by Margaret Mitsutani, Chikako Takahashi


Walk around Tokyo and you will notice the kanji character for "moon" in many shops. Step inside and you will see its image or character adorning random book jackets. Calendars show the daily waxing and waning moon, and products made with wood carved or water drawn during the full moon seem quite popular.
Japanese have long been captivated by this celestial fixture, and it has inspired countless poems and works of art.
Since man first walked on the moon, its rank in romantic notions seems to have waned, and paying homage to it is less common.
Now, however, in 2003, respect for the moon is spreading anew. Perhaps the desire to live in sync with the rhythms of nature, as symbolized by the waxing and waning of the moon, is in resurgence. Indeed, this seems to be a worldwide trend. In this spirit we present "moonlit Japan."

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