|Erika[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]|
④ Join the Tea Ceremony!
The Moon-Viewing Party offers a tea ceremony where everyone can enjoy matcha (powdered green tea) and Japanese sweets.
A separate ticket is required to participate. Here we are waiting in line.
Tea ceremony tickets go on sale from 5pm at the main temple building of Daikaku-ji Temple. We arrived 10 minutes before the sales started, but there were already this many people!
We managed to get tea ceremony tickets! Afterwards, we headed straight to the waiting room to be called for our turn.
After being called, we moved to the tea ceremony location.
The seats offer a full view of the Osawa-no-ike Pond, where the moon-viewing boats operate. As the sun sets, the seats become a prime location for viewing the full moon.
Sweets and matcha were passed around for us to enjoy. The sweet was a manju (Japanese-style bun) with chestnut—a little taste of autumn. The matcha was delightful as well, with a delicious, gentle bitterness.
This photo is from around 5pm. The sun was still setting, but the main character of the event, the full moon, revealed its face! The moon of that day (9/15) is called the “harvest moon.” The full moon we saw was large and brightly lit.
⑤ Enjoy the Food Stalls!
After sipping matcha at the tea ceremony, all that remained was to wait our turn to ride the boat. We had some time until 6pm, so we took a walk near the boarding area.
Osawa-no-ike Pond has food stalls arranged around it, and there were many rest spaces prepared.
This is what moon viewing is all about! Don’t miss a chance to try some tasty moon dumplings.
This mochi rice cake with a hearty helping of red bean paste on top looks so delicious! And it only costs ¥150 for this much!
Afterwards, we also saw stalls selling sweet mitarashi dango, bento boxed lunches and pickles on a stick. What a lively atmosphere!
Pickle on a stick is one of Erika’s favorites!
The food stalls had some more peculiar options too, like these dishes made with dried tofu! The YUBA-man perks my interest. The winds get a bit chilly in the evening, so warm foods are a welcome sight!
This majestic pagoda can be found near the food stalls. The pagoda lights up with the setting of the sun—don’t miss this spectacle!
As we were enjoying the food stalls and chewing on sweet dango dumplings, we heard a voice announcing, “Guests holding 6pm boat boarding tickets, please report to the boarding area.”
⑥ Ride the Boat!
Finally, the main event! Time to ride the boat!
Make sure you report to the boarding area on time so you don’t miss your boat. The location is close to the food stalls, and getting lost shouldn’t be a problem.
The 6 pm boat is second in popularity after the 7 pm one. There was an incredible number of people lined up at the boarding area. Aside from those boarding the boat, the area was also crowded with people snapping photos of the full moon over Osawa-no-ike Pond. The whole area around the boat ramp was bustling with commotion.
This photo was taken a little past 6pm. The skies darkened nicely, and the moon shone brighter than ever. It made for quite the elegant view. I recommend purchasing the 6pm ticket; it lets you watch the sunset as you wait in line.
I managed to get a good shot of the moon in the sky reflecting off the water. The boat waiting area was right in front of the lake, so the wait wasn’t much trouble at all.
After 10 minutes just enjoying the moon, we saw that something was about the happen at the central altar! A procession of monks from the temple and women wearing shrine maidens’ clothing made its way down the walkway.
This ceremony is called the “Full Moon Memorial Service,” and it is only held during one day of the Moon-Viewing Party. Offerings are placed on the altar, and prayer is given for a bountiful harvest and the happiness of the people.
The ceremony was held amidst a dignified atmosphere. This was the only day out of the 3 days of the Moon-Viewing Party where the ritual could be seen—what a precious experience!
After the end of the special ceremony, it was back to waiting in line. Finally, our turn came! The boats come in two types, called Ryu-tou and Gekishu. This time, we got to ride the Gekishu boat. What an exotic design.
Time to board!
The boat was surprisingly roomy inside. They said it can fit up to 24 people.
The boat takes around 15 minutes to circle Osawa-no-ike pond. The boat was surprisingly speedy and gave us a cool, pleasant breeze to enjoy. The boat also gave a spectacular view of the altar and surrounding scenery bathed in light.
Our boat voyage was over in an instant!
We finished our boat ride and decided to finish the day with a stroll around the lake. The pagoda we say earlier was lit-up beautifully and clearly reflected off the lake’s surface. The day was cloudy, and we were worried whether we’d be able to see any beautiful scenery at all, but the skies cleared in the evening and we were rewarded with this magical sight.
The food stalls were still alive with energy after 7pm, with crowds of people still enjoying the event. There was something fun for anyone—we saw couples, friends, families with children and even foreign visitors like the one in the picture!
Strangely, such opportunities to leisurely gaze upon the autumn’s full moon do not come often. How about participating next year?