Have you ever looked to the night sky and felt sure you could see a rabbit on the moon?
The Moon Rabbit from Japanese folklore!
This myth is extremely ancient, originating in India and China, making its way over to Japan along with Buddhism and from there blending into the local Japanese folklore.
It is said that the dark spots we can see on the moon's surface resemble the shape of a rabbit pounding mochi (sticky rice sweets) in his pestle and mortar.
Though in China he is believed to be mixing a potion of eternal youth.
Here is a version of Tsuki no Usagi's origin story:
"Many years ago, the Old Man of the Moon decided to visit the Earth. He disguised himself as a beggar and asked Fox (Kitsune), Monkey (Saru), and Rabbit (Usagi) for some food.
Monkey climbed a tree and brought him some fruit. Fox went to a stream, caught a fish, and brought it back to him. But Rabbit had nothing to offer him but some grass. So he asked the beggar to build a fire. After the beggar started the fire, Rabbit jumped into it and offered himself as a meal for the beggar to eat.
Quickly the beggar changed back into the Old Man of the Moon and pulled Rabbit from the fire. He said "You are most kind, Rabbit, but don't do anything to harm yourself. Since you were the kindest of all to me, I'll take you back to the moon to live with me."
The Old Man carried Rabbit in his arms back to the moon and he is still there to this very day exactly where the Old Man left him. Just look at the moon in the night sky and the rabbit is there!"
During Japan's moon viewing festival, children sing to the Moon Rabbit and ask:
‘Why are you only staring at the moon? You should be jumping up to it! Don’t sleep, the party’s just beginning!’
It is said that the Moon Rabbit is sometimes hard to see due to the smoke still coming off his body from his time in the fire.
The Moon Rabbit also features in Aztec mythology too. In this tale a god throws a rabbit at the moon to dim its light, so that it won't outshine the sun. This is why you can see the shape of a rabbit on its surface.
Have you ever seen Tsuki no Usagi yourself?