Japan's 72 Microseasons - #1
"Spring Winds Melt The Ice"
February 4 - 8
はるかぜ こおりを とく
Harukaze kōri o toku
"Spring winds melt the ice"
As the name suggests, this period is heralded by a sense of warmth in the air—a stirring of spring signaling that the depths of winter are lifting. And, little by little, the ice on lakes and lying in hills begins to melt. Of course, this doesn't mean winter's anywhere near finished, but in the Koyomi it's a time marked by that first time the wind doesn't sting quite as hard and you think warmer days aren't too far off.
It's only appropriate, then, that this is also the start of Risshun (立春), "Spring Rising," the first sekki (節季). There's 24 of these, which each contain 3 kō. In China, where the Japanese Koyomi had its genesis, the sekki are still pretty commonly observed in festivals and seasonal events. And major ones like Risshun still find their way into Japanese culture, if not explicitly by name.
Fun Japanese language fact: 東風—here read haru kaze but literally "east wind"—has some windy partners. There's 梅東風 (ume kochi), 桜東風 (sakura kochi), 雲雀東風 (hibari kochi), which are winds bringing plum blossoms, cherry blossoms, and skylarks, respectively. All of these are "seasonal words" (季語, kigo), and if you know anything about Japan you know that they love Seasonal Everything. The kigo mainly find their way into haiku, but can also be referenced in painting, ikebana, and particularly flowery business emails.
That’s all for our first kō, and our first proper post! I may add other bits to these as I go—translated haiku or tweets or art or nature tidbits—but for now, let's start gently, like a warm breeze after a long winter.
See you next kō~
Keep up with the seasons