Friday, August 5, 2011

二十四節季 Nijushi Sekki: The 24 Seasons In Japan

In Japan, according to the traditional farmer’s almanac, the year is divided into 24 equal periods or solar terms or “seasons”, approximately one every two weeks. Like most things of the Japanese calendar, these 24 periods, known as solar terms originally come from China. They mark signifigant celestial events including the solstices and equinoxes and the beginning of the seasons or other natural phenomenon. Though originally used by farmers, these 24 days are still observed and are printed on most Japanese calendars. Some of them are national holidays. It’s important to note that in America, the first day of each season is observed on the solstice or equinox, whereas in most Asian countries, it’s observed on the midpoints between them. It seems strange to us that the first day of spring is in early February when it’s still quite cold. Because the lunisolar calendar, the dates vary slightly every year.

Risshun (立春): February 4—Beginning of spring

Usui (雨水): February 18—Rain water

Keichitsu (啓蟄): March 5—Awakening of Insects (from hibernation)

Shunbun (春分): March 20—Vernal equinox, middle of spring

Seimei (清明): April 4—Clear and bright (skies)

Kokuu (穀雨): April 20—Grain rain

Rikka (立夏): May 5—Beginning of summer

Shōman (小満): May 21—Grain Fills

Bōshu (芒種): June 5—Grain in Ear

Geshi (夏至): June 21—Summer Solstice, middle of summer

Shōsho (小暑): July 7—Little Heat

Taisho (大暑): July 23—Great Heat

Risshū (立秋): August 7—Beginning of Autumn

Shosho (処暑): August 23—End of Heat

Hakuro (白露): September 7—Descent of White Dew

Shūbun (秋分): September 23—Autumnal Equinox, middle of Autumn

Kanro (寒露): October 8—Cold Dew

Sōkō (霜降): October 23—Descent of Frost

Rittō (立冬): November 7—Beginning of winter

Shōsetsu (小雪): November 22—Little Snow

Taisetsu (大雪): December 7—Great Snow

Tōji (冬至): December 22—Winter Solstice, middle of Winter

Shōkan (小寒): January 5--- Little Cold

Daikan (大寒): January 20—Great Cold

I really like these days. One thing that struck me when I came to Japan was how conscious the Japanese are of the seasons and the change of seasons. The Niju Shi Sekki is a good way to observe the changes of the year.

In addition to the Niju Shi Sekki days, there are some 15 additional calendar days, collectively known as Zaasetsu. These include; Setsubun, a holiday on the eve of Risshun, the first day of Spring, The Doyo days, 18 days before the start of each season, and the Higan days. Many of the Niju Shi Sekki or Zaasetsu days have specific customs or foods associated with them.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...