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Wadaiko, Japanese drum, performed by children




















































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 Japan 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 China , 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.


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