The United Japanese Society of Hawaii held its 20th annual “Tsukimi no Kai,” or moon-viewing celebration, on Oct. 15, on the rooftop of Bakery & Table. This year’s event was co-chaired by UJSH president-elect Frances Nakachi Kuba and past president Dean Asahina. Highlights of the event included a blessing, tea ceremony, haiku contest and bon dance under a clear sky and a full moon.
Emcee David Jones welcomed guests and introduced Rev. Akihiro Okada of the Daijingu Temple of Hawaii. Okada opened the evening with a traditional offering of the tamagushi, or evergreen branches. “Tama” refers to “tamashii,” or “soul;” and “gushi,” or “kushi,” means “to connect.” It is an ancient Shinto ritual, which includes ceremonial food offerings and blessings to the attendees. In Japan, the altar and offerings are usually placed on the veranda or near a window so that the moon can shine on them as offerings to help make wishes come true, while expressing our gratitude to Kami-sama (God).
The ceremony was followed by a dance performance by Blake Shimabukuro and Chiao-Wen Chiang, with musical accompaniment by Hawaii Gagaku Kenkyukai.
While guests enjoyed a buffet dinner provided by Chef Masanori Tsuda and the staff of Bakery & Table, Darin Miyashiro-Sensei, of Sawa Koto Kai, presented a koto performance with Neal Shosaki playing the shakuhachi flute. Also, tea ceremony demonstrations were held indoors by students from the Pacific Buddhist Academy, under the guidance of Omotesenke Domonkai Hawaii.
This year, haiku instructor, Kaoru Nakamura-Sensei, was unable to attend. So, her students: Yoshiko Rossi-Turner, Junko Kihara, and Keiko Suzuki were the judges of this year’s haiku contest. The winner of the Japanese haiku contest was Misako Ito, wife of the Consul General of Japan, Koichi Ito. And the winner of the English haiku contest was Albert Wong. Each winner won a bag of Tsuyahime premium Japanese rice.
After everyone had a chance to enjoy dinner, drinks, fellowship and some culture, they gathered to view the moon. The bright full autumn moon floated in the clear night sky. To top off the evening, the Iwakuni Odori Aiko Kai dance group lead guests in several upbeat dance numbers.
By the end of the celebration, guests were smiling, with their tummies full of ‘ono food and hearts filled with aloha. The moon continued to shine blessings upon everyone as they returned home.