NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - The Hammond Museum’s beloved moon viewing will rise again this year—in a different form.
The annual event was started in 1966 by museum founder Natalie Hays Hammond as a way to bring together people and the traditions of the East and West. Folks would stroll around a Japanese garden lit by paper lanterns before settling down for concert of traditional music and a meal of rice, noodles, fish, meat and vegetables all washed down with sake and plum wine.
This year, they will be enjoying the fall tradition from home on Saturday, Sept. 26. The virtual festival starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20.
The North Salem cultural institution had to temporarily close its doors this spring after the pandemic hit. Although it hasn’t yet been able to welcome the public back physically, it has kept moving forward with virtual art exhibits and online classes.
(At present, it is trying to figure out a way to host a workshop in the art of Japanese flower arranging.)
Tsukimi or Otsukimi—literally meaning “moon viewing”—festivals honor the autumn moon and typically take place in September or October.
Pampas grass is used as decoration at moon-viewing parties where rice dumplings and udon noodles topped with nori and raw egg are eaten. Seasonal produce such as taro, edamame and chestnuts are displayed as offerings, echoing the celestial body’s shape.
Back in the day, members of the Japanese aristocracy would float about in boats to view the moon’s reflection on the water’s surface.
At these festivals, tanka—a 31-syllable poem written in a single, unbroken line—were composed.
Hammond’s online moon viewing will start with a tea ceremony performed by tea master Yasuko Hara. It will be followed by koto and shamisen music specially recorded for the museum by Masayo Ishigure.
Shamisen is a three-stringed, long-necked, fretless Japanese lute. Koto, also known as a Japanese harp or zither, has 13 strings.
At-home viewers are encouraged to make the experience more authentic by providing their own bento boxes and Japanese beverages.
For tickets or more information, visit www.hammondmuseum.org/annual-moonviewing or email the museum at email@example.com.