Japan's 72 Poetic Micro-Seasons

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What bland words Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall (or Autumn) really are. What little they actually do to conjour up exactly what is occurring in nature at a given time.

I recently discovered the traditional Japanese calendar, and my heart was immediately aflutter. Rather than lumping every day into one of four seasons, which, lets face it, are rarely accurate these days, the Japanese calendar is split into 72 different sections. Each of these sections sits within one of 24 divisions, which are all given descriptively beautiful names. The 72 sections (or ) last for only around five days each, yet perfectly describe what is happening as life blooms and ebbs. I would love to spend an entire year documenting my life according to the calendar. Heck, I may dedicate 2016 to seeking lingering mist and singing wagtails!

It's a pretty extensive list, but worth your time reading over if you are at all interested in nature. The dates are approximate, and obviously nature doesn't run to clockwork, but it is a nice realisation of the changing of the seasons throughout the year.

BEGINNING OF SPRING

East wind melts the ice (Feb  4th - 8th)

Bush warblers start singing in the mountains (Feb 9th - 13th)

Fish emerge from the ice (Feb 14th - 18th)

RAINWATER

Rain moistens the soil (Feb 19th - 23rd)

Mist starts to linger (Feb 24th - 28th)

Grass sprouts, trees bud (March 1st - 5th)

INSECTS AWAKEN

Hibernating insects surface (March 6th - 10th)

First peach blossoms (March 11th - 15th)

Caterpillars become butterflies (March 16th - 20th)

SPRING EQUINOX

Sparrows start to nest (March 21st - 25th)

First cherry blossoms (March 26th - 30th)

Distant thunder (March 31st - April 4th)

PURE & CLEAR

Swallows return (April 5th - 9th)

Wild geese wild north (April 10th - 14th)

First rainbows (April 15th- 19th)

GRAIN RAINS

First reeds sprout (April 20th - 24th)

Last frost, rice seedlings grow (April 25th - 29th)

Peonies bloom (April 30th - May 4th)

BEGINNING OF SUMMER

Frogs start singing (May 5th - 9th)

Worms surface (May 10th - 14th)

Bamboo shoots sprout (May 15th - 20th)

LESSER RIPENING

Silkworms start feasting on mulberry leaves (May 21st -25th)

Safflowers bloom (May 26th - 30th)

Whats ripens and is harvested (May 31st - June 5th)

GRAIN BEARDS & SEEDS

Praying mantises hatch (June 6th - 10th)

Rotten grass becomes fireflies (June 11th - 15th)

Plums turn yellow (June 16th - 20th)

SUMMER SOLSTICE

Self-heal withers (June 21st - 26th)

Irises bloom (June 27th - July 1st)

Crow-dipper sprouts (July 2nd - 6th)

LESSER HEAT

Warm winds blow (July 7th - 11th)

First lotus blossoms (July 12th - 16th)

Hawks learn to fly (July 17th - 22nd)

GREATER HEAT

Paulownia trees produce seeds (July 23rd - 28th)

Earth is damp, air is humid (July 29th - August 2nd)

Great rains sometimes fall (August 3rd - 7th)

BEGINNING OF AUTUMN

Cool winds blow (August 8th - 12th)

Evening cicadas sing (August 13th - 17th)

Thick fog descends (August 18th - 22nd)

MANAGEABLE HEAT

Cotton flowers bloom (August 23rd - 27th)

Heat starts to die down (August 28th - September 1st)

Rice ripens (September 2nd - 7th)

WHITE DEW

Dew glistens white on grass (September 8th - 12th)

Wagtails sing (September 13th - 17th)

Swallows leave (September 18th - 22nd)

AUTUMN EQUINOX

Thunder ceases (September 23rd - 27th)

Insects hole up underground (September 28th - October 2nd)

Farmers drain fields (October 3rd - 7th)

COLD DEW

Wild geese return (October 8th - 12th)

Chrysanthemums bloom (October 13th - 17th)

Crickets chirp around the door (October 18th - 22nd)

FROST FALLS

First frost (October 23rd - 27th)

Light rains sometimes fall (October 28th - November 1st)

Maple leaves and ivy turn yellow (November 2nd - 6th)

BEGINNING OF WINTER

Camelias bloom (November 7th - 11th)

Land starts to freeze (November 12th - 16th)

Daffodils bloom (November 17th - 21st)

LESSER SNOW

Rainbows hide (November 22nd - 26th)

North wind blows the leaves from the trees (November 27th - December 1st)

Tachibana citrus tree leaves start to turn yellow (December 2nd - 6th)

GREATER SNOW

Cold sets in, winter begins (December 7th - 11th)

Bears start hibernating in their dens (December 12th - 16th)

Salmons gather and swim upstream (December 17th - 21st)

WINTER SOLSTICE

Self-heal sprouts (December 22nd - 26th)

Deer shed antlers (December 27th - 31st)

Wheat sprouts under snow (January 1st - 4th)

LESSER COLD

Parsley flourishes (January 5th - 9th)

Springs thaw (January 10th - 14th)

Pheasants start to call (January 15th - 19th)

GREATER COLD

Butterburs bud (January 20th - 24th)

Ice thickens on streams (January 25th - 29th)

Hens start to lay eggs (January 30th - February 3rd)

IMAGES: My own x2, @helloemilie, Victoria Hannan, Travelling Mama, A Common Space, Casey Liu,  Arden Wray, Haarkon, @helloemilie, Haarkon x2, Toast Travels