Recently, a link concerning Japan’s seasons was shared on one of my Facebook groups. It turns out that, in ancient Japan, the year was divided first into 24 periods. In each of those time periods, three “microseasons” were described:
The 24 divisions are each split again into three for a total of 72 kō that last around five days each. The names were also originally taken from China, but they did not always match up well with the local climate. In Japan, they were eventually rewritten in 1685 by the court astronomer Shibukawa Shunkai. In their present form, they offer a poetic journey through the Japanese year in which the land awakens and blooms with life and activity before returning to slumber.
If you follow the link here, you can read the full list of microseasons, which have lovely names like “Mist starts to linger” (February 24 – 28), “Warm winds blow” (July 7-11) and “Chrysanthemums bloom” (October 13-17).
A couple of things strike me about the list. First, they seem to describe a cooler Japan. This could be Shunkai downplaying the awfulness of midsummer but, given what we know about global warning, it may be that the seasons really have changed now. In lieu of that, it also seems to be that there are some things missing. July 2-6, for instance, could easily be recast as “heavy rains fall” (i.e. rainy season) and, as I wrote about recently, mid February could be called a more poetic version of “fake spring”, like “brief burst of warmth.”
What about where you live? Are there some “microseasons” that vary enough within the regular four seasons that they deserve some special recognition and/or a beautiful name?
After a week of strong winds, we’re experiencing some unseasonably warm weather just now. This happens nearly every February; the weather will get nice enough for a day or two that you can temporarily forget how cold it usually is and get excited about spring. Then the temperatures plummet and anther six weeks of cold weather ensue.
Thus, you enjoy this pretense at mid-April while it lasts. I took Mr. K for a walk, as I do most days, and meandered over to the big local park where we discovered that even some of the trees had come to the pretend-spring party and blossomed.
In keeping with the theme of things, sedate blossom viewing was ensuing.
And into this scene of tranquility (inadvertently) crashed me and my angry son.
He seems to be going through a growth spurt right now and his sleeping patterns are all over the place. He is also particularly clingy and he had lost his dummy (pacifier) en route. He was in a rage. To top things off, I was armed with a much-needed coffee and a donut from the 7-11. Sitting on a park bench and sipping coffee, even with a crying baby attached, might be perfectly normal in my home country and yours, but not so much over here and especially not when there’s an unspoken expectation to maintain the atmosphere. A foreign woman, eating outside, with a crying baby in a pram? Forget channeling the spirit of old day Japan. We got an unusually high number of glares from elderly wanderers and amateur photographers.
So very tired…
Mr. K did eventually chill and fall asleep… right before we met a pair of women who also had babies and wanted theirs to meet mine. Sigh.
Still, it was a nice – if unintended – outing.
For a couple of weeks now, even though it’s still January, I’ve been seeing what I suspect are the buds of plum blossoms here and there. It’s a nice reminder that, even as winter weighs heavily and it likely won’t warm up for another couple of months, spring will eventually come.
Also, you can attract cute little birds to slumbering trees with a few leftover mikan!