(Title – 月見 – Tsukimi – Viewing the Moon)
Months passed by; yet, Kichirō and Mizudori were still unable to find out who or what Mizudori was. They have been all over the famous haunted and historical sites in Kyoto; however, they were still clueless about the little ‘rabbit’s’ real identity.
Summer, Kichirō’s most despised season, has finally come to an end. The leaves started wilting, while a few had fallen off the trees. A magnificent blend of yellow, green, orange, red, and pink leaves started emerging, matched with the wonders of the prestigious temples of the olden age in the background. The gentle wind blew, making the trees sway as they dance in unison, as some fallen leaves were blown along with the wind. The autumn foliage has officially started!
“Ren-sama, what’s our plan for Tsukimi ?” Mizudori asked.
( Tsukimi「月見」or Otsukimi 「お月見」, literally moon-viewing, also known as Jugoya 「十五夜」, refers to Japanese festivals honoring the autumn moon, a variant of the Mid-Autumn Festival.)
“Oi, stop calling me ‘sama,’ will you?” Kichirō narrowed his eyes.
“Ha ha! Okay, Ren-dono,” Mizudori chuckled.
“…” Kichirō did not respond. Instead, he cleared his throat and changed the subject. “I don’t know what Okāsan and Otōsan are planning to do. As for me, I just wanted to stay on top of that nearby hill, eating dango while we view the moon,” he said as he pointed to the hill behind their house.
“You’re lazing off again,” Mizudori sneered.
“Nah, just wanna enjoy my long vacation. Besides, Okāsan and I already had an agreement so I’m sure she won’t mind.”
“If the great and noble Ren-dono says so,” Mizudori sighed as he shrugged his shoulders.
“Stop it, okay? It’s not funny. While we enjoy the mid-autumn moon later, why not we also sneak into some nearby temples? We might be able to find a clue about who and what you are. At least I would be able to get rid… I mean help you, he he,” Kichirō said.
“Hey, you just wanted to dispose of me, don’t you? So mean.”
On the sixth day of October, it was the 15th day of the eighth Japanese lunar month. Kichirō’s family prepared for Tsukimi. Akihiko prepared decorations made out of susuki  while Fumiko made some tsukimi dangos.
(「ススキ」Japanese Pampas Grass – resembles the head of rice plants so it’s used to wish for next year’s grain harvest to be plentiful. Susuki is also used as a sign for inviting the moon gods. And after the celebrations are finished you hang the susuki grass on your front door to ward off evil spirit and stay healthy for a year.)
Kichirō’s eyes were glimmering as he imagined himself merrily eating the offerings while he viewed the moon. Tsukimi was one of his favorite events other than Hanami .
(「花見」Cherry Blossom Viewing)
“You look like a dope when you stare and drool at the food like that,” Mizudori teased.
“Just shut up. You’re just jealous because you can’t eat, ha ha,” Kichirō laughed.
“Son, why are you laughing like a fool alone? Come help your mother prepare,” Akihiko called out.
“Ha ha, look who’s the foolish one now,” Mizudori continued teasing him.
Kichirō was flustered but he just chose to ignore Mizudori. He helped his mother prepare the sweet potatoes, wine, and fruits as offerings for Tsukimi. “Oi, Shūichirō, help us out, too.”
“Onīsan, you can do it on your own. Okāsan is training you to become a good wife,” Shūichirō grinned.
“Ha. Ha,” Kichirō awkwardly laughed as he narrowed his eyes.
“Well, who knows. Maybe you will be able to find Shirō-aniki again. Okāsan and Otōsan will definitely marry you off with him. I’m sure of that!” Shūichirō whispered.
“That’s not funny!” Kichirō roared.
“Will you two just do what you need to do? Shūichirō, dear, help mom stack the dangos. That would be 9-4-2,” Fumiko ordered. “And Kichirō dear, just continue arranging the offerings, sigh…”
The two brothers sluggishly finished their own tasks. Mizudori watched them as he floated beside Kichirō.
“Ren, who’s this Shirō?” Mizudori curiously asked.
“Ano… a friend,” Kichirō awkwardly responded.
Shūichirō heard his big brother and looked in his direction. He was puzzled so he asked: “Onīsan, who are you talking to?”
“A round and fluffy ghost usagi,” Kichirō lazily responded.
“There’s a ghost? Wow. I wonder why I don’t have that ability. Maybe you were adopted, he he.”
“No, you were the one who was adopted. Okāsan found you in the garbage pit when you were a baby. There was a letter attached to your face and it said your name was Mazui ,” Kichirō flatly said.
“Okāsan! Onīsan said I’m adopted and that my real name was Mazui!”
“Kids, just focus on what you’re doing or else I will really have both of you adopted,” Fumiko was already fuming but was able to say these words in a calm manner.
The two boys pursed their lips. They knew how bad their mother’s temper was. Mizudori was laughing out loud as he floated into the room.
“Shut up!” Kichirō roared.
“What did you say?” Fumiko roared even louder.
“I was talking to Shūichirō, Okāsan,” Kichirō reasoned as he shrunk back.
That night, the autumn full moon was shining brightly. The dark-blue sky was cloudless and adorned with thousands of shining and shimmering stars. The town folks were frolicking as they viewed the moon and eat their offerings.
Kichirō and Mizudori sneaked off and took a few dangos and fruits with them. Kichirō wanted to get some sake as well but he was afraid that his father might catch him drinking sake. In the end, he just chose to get some fruit juices.
“Ano… Ren, why did you bring some susuki with you?” Mizudori curiously asked.
“I want to invite the Moon God. Maybe I would be able to get a chance to talk with him again. I have a lot of questions about my ability,” Kichirō explained.
“Have you been doing this every year?”
“No, this is the first time I’m doing this. I didn’t have this kind of opportunity to do this when we were in the big city. At least I would be able to perform this ritual in this rural place.”
“But I’m not sure if this will work. Also, we could possibly ask him about you. Maybe, you might be the legendary moon rabbit.”
“No way. But if I’m really the moon rabbit, I’d understand why I ended up going here to earth. I couldn’t imagine how boring it would be to be on the moon, with an old geezer, for all of my life!”
“Ha ha, or maybe, he disposed of you because you talk too much,” Kichirō chuckled.
“I’m cute and fuzzy, why would he do that? It’s definitely me who ran away.”
“If you say so.”
As the two walked up the hill, err, more like one was walking up the hill and the other was floating, Kichirō started complaining.
“Ugh… I never thought this hill was so high and steep,” he sluggishly said.
“Stop complaining. You were the one who said that we should go here. It’s not that hard to go up a hill. At least you get to exercise your lazy bones, he he.”
“It’s easy for you to say. You’re floating!”
“Quit whining and just use your energy to walk.”
Finally, the two were able to reach the hilltop. The cold wind caressed Kichirō’s exquisite porcelain-like face. He closed his eyes as he took a deep breath. The two looked all around them. They could see their house from there. The lights from the houses and temples around looked like stars that descended from the heavens. The night sky, itself, competed with its unparalleled majestic moon and stars. All of a sudden, Kichirō sneezed.
“You should have brought your hoodie with you,” Mizudori said.
Kichirō wiped his nose and said: “No. Don’t worry. I’m not that weak.”
“Ren, you might catch a cold.”
Let’s just view the moon.”
Kichirō sat on a big rock and took off his backpack. He took out the dangos, fruits and juice that he brought. He looked at the dangos that were shaped like a rabbit. He stupidly smiled seeing these.
“God, I didn’t know that you eat rabbits. It’s a good thing you can’t touch me.”
“I wouldn’t eat you even if I could touch you. Who would want to eat something that talks?”
“Ask yourself… My stomach is grumbling. I’m hungry too. Hu hu,” Mizudori whined.
“How can a ghost be hungry?”
“I’m just hungry! It’s none of your business.”
Kichirō happily ate the food he prepared as he enjoyed the scenery. From time to time, he would take a sip on the strawberry juice he brought. Mizudori just sat beside him frowning.
“Oh wait, I forgot to bring out the susuki,” Kichirō remembered.
“Are you even sure that this will work?”
“No,” Kichirō plainly said.
Kichirō arranged the susuki in a vase that he brought. Mizudori looked amazed that he was able to even bring a vase. Looks like Kichirō really prepared for this!
The two continued gazing at the big, round, and bright moon. Kichirō, somehow, loves the moon — most especially the crescent moon. Thinking about this, he held tightly onto the crescent moon pendant necklace that Shirō gave him more than a year ago. Where could this guy be? How has he been all this time? Does he even remember me when he looks at the crescent moon at night?
After a few minutes, the moon’s glow became odd. The white glow slowly changed to blue — then the light completely disappeared. The stars and the lights within the vicinity all vanished into thin air. Kichirō and Mizudori were alarmed of this this unforeseen event. Everything became pitch-dark around them. They could not even see each other.
“Mi… Mizudori? Where are you?” Kichirō was trembling.
“I’m just right beside you silly. You’re not afraid of yōkais but you’re afraid of the dark,” Mizudori teased.
“No… No… It’s just that… I had a bad experience before. The darkness reminded me so much of my past.”
All of a sudden, a tree before them enigmatically glowed. It looked as if it was the burning bush that was mentioned in Christian and Judean lore. The two gazed at the tree in amazement and dread. Amazed that it was unusual, and dreadful because they did not know why it happened.
Out of curiosity, the two approached the enigmatic tree. It became unusually warm as they drew near.
“What could this be, Ren?” Mizudori asked.
“I don’t know. Let’s just see,” Kichirō calmly said.
While Kichirō was checking on the tree, he noticed that in the trunk there was a big slit that was slowly becoming wider and wider. The eyes of the both of them grew wide and they were shaking.
“OMG Ren. I don’t wanna die here!”
“Shut up. You’re already dead!” Kichirō roared.
“Hey I’m just scared. Who knows what could be inside it.”
“That’s what I’m curious about.”
Kichirō inspected the slit and saw that there was something inside the hole. He squinted his eyes and furrowed his brows in an attempt to see it clearly. He noticed that a visage slowly emerged from the tree trunk. This face then became a head, two arms slowly forced open the trunk, finally, an entire human-like figure emerged before them. It was an old man who wore a robe that looked like from someone in the Heian Period.
The once closed eyes of the old man suddenly opened. He had no pupils and all could be seen were his corneas. He opened his mouth and slowly said: “Are you the usagi, Kichirō, who beckoned?”
“How did you know my name?”
“I have been waiting for you…”