Ever looked at the man on the moon? Well, in Korea, and other parts of far east Asia, people can see the outline of a rabbit in the dark patches of the moon’s surface. The story varies in Chinese and Japanese folklore, but according to Korean legend, the rabbit on the moon, known as daltokki (달토끼), can be seen pounding the ingredients for rice cakes with a pestle and mortar. Both the rabbit and the full moon symbolise long life and prosperity so when you see a full moon, it is custom to make a wish.
But why a rabbit? According to a traditional Buddhist tale, the ruler of heaven comes down to earth in disguise. He comes upon a fox, a monkey and a rabbit and in a test of their faith, he begs them for food. The fox brings him a fish and the monkey gathers some fruit. However, the rabbit offers himself as food and throws himself onto the fire, but somehow he doesn’t get burned. The man reveals himself, and in honour of the rabbit’s selflessness he takes it up to the heavens with him, and imprints his image on the moon for eternity so people can look at it and remember what he was prepared to do.