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A view across the Japanese Friendship Garden's koi pond at the start of the first evening of the Otsukimi Festival.

Otsukimi or Tsukimi, literally moon-viewing, refers to Japanese festivals honoring the autumn moon. The celebration of the full moon typically takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month of the traditional Japanese calendar. The tradition dates to the Heian era, and is now so popular in Japan that some people repeat the activities for several evenings following the appearance of the full moon.

Otsukimi traditions include displaying decorations made from Japanese pampas grass and eating rice dumplings called Tsukimi dango in order to celebrate the beauty of the moon. Seasonal produce is also displayed as offerings to the moon.

The Japanese Friendship Garden, first opened to the public in 2002, brings the essence of Japan to the desert, celebrating the spirit of understanding and promoting educational and cultural awareness between the East and West. The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, named Ro Ho En is an authentic 3.5 acre Japanese Stroll Garden with tea garden and tea house. This tranquil and beautiful setting features more than 1,500 tons of hand-picked rock, stone footbridges, lanterns and more than 50 varieties of plants. As you stroll the path, you will enjoy flowing streams, a 12-foot waterfall, and a Koi pond with over 300 colorful Koi fish.

The devoted and friendly relationship between the Sister Cities of Phoenix and Himeji, Japan is reflected in the name chosen by its creators - Ro Ho En. RO is the Japanese word for Heron, a bird symbol of Himeji City. HO is the Japanese word for the mythical Phoenix bird, and EN is the word for Garden.

ISO 800, f/4, 1/10 sec, 44mm

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Additional Photos by Mark Freitag (nagalaut) Silver Note Writer [C: 3 W: 0 N: 82] (128)
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