Tsuki-Yomi is the Japanese name for the god of the
Moon. "It is curious to note that the Chinese picture of the hare
in the moon preparing the drug of immortality has passed into the
iconography of modern
with certain modifications. The Japanese represent the white disk of the
moon with a rabbit or a hare pounding rice in a mortar. This symbol is
based on a pun. In Japanese, Mochi-tsuki means to pound rice for cakes,
and Mochi-zuki also means the full moon. Although the ideograms with
which the two words are written are entirely different, the identity of
the consonants was enough to produce the image".
In legend, the hare's life is supposed to extend to no less than a
thousand years. Its fur, after five hundred years, becomes white.
Usagi has been nicknamed odango-atama (dumpling head) because of her
hair, by Mamoru, Haruka, and Seiya. The dumpling referred to is the
mochi or rice cakes.
A little last note on mochi since it concerns a Sun and Moon
representation. These cakes are sometimes offered at Shinto shrines,
with one side coloured red and the other white, possibly representing
the Sun and Moon.
Among them, rabbit and the moon seems to be the
most well known, and a typical picture will show a rabbit pounding a
rice cake in the full moon. The association of rabbit with full moon
originally derived from
the only difference from that of the Japanese version being the fact
that the rabbit was pounding a medicine for eternal life in the moon.
Full moon is called "mochi-zuki" and to pound rice, "mochi-tsuki"
in Japanese. The similar two words may have somehow got mixed up as time
passed by. Now rabbits are the famous rice pounders that everybody sees
at night every month.
A varied Asian cultural heritage colours the
legends and design motifs associated with the rabbit or hare (“usagi”).
Such legends link the animal to the moon, where it is said to pound rice
cakes, and to the elixir of immortality. The rabbit also appears in art
as one of the twelve animals of the zodiac.