Book review, from Tokyo – Sometimes new, sometimes full. On the wax or on the wane. The silver celestial body that quietly shines through darkness is always way up there. Once upon a time, we raced to reached it, to plant a flag. Down here, we were treated to a view of our home planet from afar.
Scifi aside, many stories and practices abound about our moon. There is otsukimi, or moon-viewing, in Japan and the Mid-autumn Festival celebrations by the Chinese diaspora on the 15th day of the Eight lunar month. Both are accompanied with tales of beings on the moon – a rabbit pounding mochi in the former and Chang’e, who floated up to the moon after swallowing an immortal pill, in the latter. And then there is, of course, that man on the moon.
Our constant companion throughout countless nights. Calm, serene, just watching over us, quietly. Unlike its daytime counterpart, brilliant, brimming with energy and life. But what if it disappears one day? Will we notice? Will we remember that once a month, it vanishes and returns as a wafer-thin smile?
『わたし、お月さま』(Watashi, otsuki-sama, lit.”I’m the moon”) by Nanae Aoyama, illustrated by Satoe Tone, tells the story of the moon that is struck suddenly by a sense of loneliness and dives down to earth to find an old friend who shared a special moment. After descending, it is bounced about by kids like a ball, picked up by roaming creatures, and rolls across the ocean floor.
The moon finally comes by an old man sitting on a park bench with his granddaughter. By then the moon had been away for quite some time. “Has the moon forgotten all about us?” the girl asks, tears welling.
Granddad shares his secret – many years ago, he was the astronaut who shared a chocolate-glazed donut with the moon! The moon will return, he reassures.
Free from the shackles of loneliness, the moon flutters back up into the sky, joyous that the memory of that shared moment will continue with the now smiling child.
Gorgeously illustrated,『わたし、お月さま』brings us yet another story of the moon, somewhat like a parent, sibling, or friend who is always watching over us. A reminder to not take them for granted, and return the favour of watching over them while I can.
This year, mid autumn was on Oct. 4 (Wed.). The following day (16th day of the lunar calendar) is when the moon normally seems to be at its fullest.
(Watashi, otsukisama, lit. I’m the moon)
Text by Nanae Aoyama, illustrated by Satoe Tone
Publisher: NHK Publishing, 2016