Tsukimi, or Moon Viewing, is a Japanese tradition going back to the Heian period, when portions of the old Chinese mid-Autumn festivals blended with local practices to create one more reason for the aristocracy of Kyoto to stay up all night. The classic portrayal of the Heian Moon Viewing Party includes courtesans reclining in small boats, composing poetry on the rippling reflection of the full harvest moon as their fingers trailed through the water.
Well, we may not be able to offer you that in Hiroshima, but in Shukkei-en garden you can come quite close. The festival’s date changes from year to year, of course, depending on when the moon is full. In 2018, it comes quite early, in the last week of September.
Shukkei-en is a perfect setting for the kangetsusai (another name for a moon viewing tea party). The formal garden setting, built around a large pond overlooked by three teahouses and spanned by an arching stone bridge, seems designed with such things in mind.
On Monday, September 24, there will be tea ceremony events held at several places in Shukkei-en. This is a popular event, which means it will be more lively than some other tea events you may have attended in the past. It affords an excellent chance to see the Shinto displays laid out in celebration of the harvest moon, to see tea practitioners in traditional dress, and to drink tea yourself as you watch the full moon rise over the pond. Tents will be opened for the serving of tea on the lawn adjacent to the art museum, and of course, there will ceremonies as well in the Seifukan tea house.
The tea events will begin at around 15:00. The sun won’t set for another three hours after that, though, so if you want to enjoy the evening night view, come later or plan to linger in the garden. There are certainly worse ways to spend a Monday night. The tea events will come to a close at 20:00, though the garden itself will remain open until 21:00.
This should be a very pleasant, low key event. Children are, of course, welcome. Many families attend the kangetsusai, and children seem to enjoy the odd thrill of being outside at night with so many adults around enthusing over the moon and steaming cups of green tea.
As mentioned elsewhere, this will also be the final day for the Studio Ghibli Expo in the Prefectural Art Museum adjacent to the park. The museum will be open until 20:00 on the final day, so it may be a good day to buy a combined museum and garden ticket and take in both.
Address: 2-11 Kaminobori-cho, Naka-ku Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0014
Time: September 24, 15:00 to 20:00
Access: Grounds of Shukkei-en Garden. A fifteen-minute walk north along Chuo-dori from the Hondori shopping arcade downtown, or take the northbound Hakushima spur of the Hiroden streetcar line, exiting at Shukkeien-mae stop.
Admission: Formal tea ceremony in the teahouse, 800 yen / tea in the garden, 600 yen