Across three weekends in September 2022, Startbahn, Inc presented Museum of the Moon as part of Moon Art Night Shimokiti in Tokyo.
This new art festival was presented in ‘Shimokita Railway Street’, a new town created by the city development of a 1.7km long former railroad track. The theme of the festival was the Moon which is a motif that is often referred to in traditional Japanese literature and as a cultural symbol. At the same time it is associated with cutting-edge technologies such as moon travel and space development. The festival gives a new identity to Shimakitazowa by marring the nostalgic yet new, futuristic yet warm, and contradictory yet profound world view of the Moon.
‘Intrude’ by Australian artist Amanda Parer was installed close to the Moon, as in Japanese culture, it is said that a rabbit lives on the moon.
The Moon in Japanese Culture
Since time immemorial there was a custom of admiring the full moon, called Tsukimi. Japanese considered the autumn moon to be the most beautiful, and with the onset of autumn, festivals were held throughout the country to express gratitude for a good harvest. Traditionally, houses were decorated with silvergrass and special ritual treats were made from rice known as tsukimi-dango. According to the old calendar, the full moon came on the fifteenth of each month, and it is especially beautiful in September. Feasting one’s eyes on the moon on that day was called jugoya-no-tsukimi.
A famous Moon related legend is ‘Kaguya-hime’, which tells the story of the moon princess Kaguya. The story details the life of Kaguya-hime, who is discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant. After she grows, her beauty attracts five suitors seeking her hand in marriage, whom she turns away by challenging them each with an impossible task; she later attracts the affection of the Emperor of Japan. At the tale’s end, Kaguya-hime reveals her celestial origins and returns to the Moon.