Yesterday was 'Jugoya' (十五夜). This is also known as 'tsukimi' (Moon viewing), which happens on the 15th of August, according to the kyuureki (lunar) calendar (which is also the calendar often adhered to in the tea ceremony). According to the modern calendar, though, it happened yesterday!
The moon was full and beautiful, rice paddies glowing ethereal, foreboding forest silhouetted against the starry sky, etc. And I happened to be spending the night with a friend who has two nursery-school age children living with her. As dusk fell we went out to collect suzuki - the pretty moon-viewing grass that has become a cliche accompanied by rabbits and dango (sweet ground rice paste balls) - and put this in a vase, along with some flowers, plus a few sweets on a plate next to it. So far, so intriguing.
I dont think it's possible to say no to that sort of question. Anyway, it turns out that every house in the neighbourhood puts out suzuki grass in a vase (or more commonly, a huge emptily sake bottle), accompanied by a tray of sweets. Then all of the kids go out in groups by torchlight and creep up to each doorstep in order to take their share of sweets. Apparently they used to leave notes behind, polite acknowledgements that they had taken their share, but now they just take them and leave nothing.
It felt a bit like a surreptitious halloween.