Risshu- Autumn’s Arrival

There is an old Japanese agricultural calendar that is still acknowledged in many places around Japan.

The ancient Japanese calendar divided the year into 24 and then 72 separate “seasons”. I found it fascinating. I also found it to be very accurate.

In olden times a lunar calendar was used, based on the waxing and waning of the moon, which meant that the position of the sun and the dates on the calendar would gradually shift out of sync. It is possible that the 24 season calendar was a way to compensate for this, and provide a calendar that satisfactorily depicted the changes in the seasons which matched with daily life.

And beyond that, each season of the 24 season calendar was then divided again into three more, to create the 72 season calendar. Each of these 72 seasons lasts just five days or so, and the names of each season beautifully depict the tiny, delicate changes in nature that occur around us, year in year out.

“Spring Winds Thaw the Ice”, “The First Peach Blossoms”, “Damp Earth Humid Heat”, “The Maple and the Ivy Turn Yellow”.

Copied from the 72 Seasons app-

As a “nature lover” I found that following along with these mini-seasons brought me such joy and opened my eyes to the subtle changes one might otherwise not notice or really think about.

The beginning of autumn happens around August 7th or 8th on this ancient calendar. While that may sound off-I guarantee you it isn’t.  This is something that I became aware of before I even knew about this ancient calendar. I began to notice that right around the first week of August the old sakura tree across the street began to show signs of Autumn.

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Sure enough it was the same this year. This photo was taken August 7th of this year. Right now the tree is about 45% yellow.

Just a couple of weeks ago I noticed that the sunlight was different. It had lost it’s stark brightness and cast a more subtle light across my kitchen windows.

I had such a lovely treat. On the very eve of risshu I stepped out into the garden after dinner to view the moon and was kept company by a koogori- an autumn cricket. The very first one that I had heard this year. How fitting that he chirruped for me on the eve of the first day of autumn.

I’m quite confident in calling it a “he” as only male crickets chirrup.

The rice fields have begun to fade, the emerald green seas slowly fading to gold. Soon the valley will be filled with the hum of rice harvesters.

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The gardens are winding down and planting of winter vegetables will begin soon.

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I see all that is left are the late summer vegetables. The crows are happily picking through what the gardeners have left behind in compost heaps.

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My tomatoes are winding down. I think this might be some of the last I will glean. The late summer / early fall peppers are in full swing. That was the very last eggplant that I managed to get off of my one plant.

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The evenings and mornings are beginning to bring cool breezes. This evening was so lovely that we decided to grab a bento from the local convenience store and drive up to Fukuchi Dam for an impromptu early autumn picnic. As the sun slipped lower in the sky we felt the zansho or “last lingering heat of late summer” dissipate as cool breezes blew down from the mountains. Had we been wet from a swim in the dam we would have been chilled.

We saw that the momiji trees are starting to turn and looked forward to the mountains splashed in autumn color.

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The dam was so peaceful and calm. Such a wonderful blessing amid all the insanity right now.

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No one else was up there. We had the entire area to ourselves. In nice weather there are usually several joggers / walkers here. It’s a good distance around the perimeter of the dam and an awesome place to exercise. The entrances to several hiking trails are also found throughout.

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We are praying for peace and cherishing each moment….

Here is the APP that has been created so you can follow along with the 72 seasons.

4 thoughts on “Risshu- Autumn’s Arrival

  1. That is so interesting and true. If one is observant, every day brings changes. My daughter and I were discussing last week that we felt Autumn had begun. I join her most days for a walk with the dogs and we have 3 main routes so they are repeated every couple of days and there are definite changes. You are doing well with your peppers. I have given up growing them as never do well. Your evening picnic sounded wonderful and we can all do with all the peace we can get. I am enjoying your posts. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After having lived in Saipan for most of my life I forgot what the seasons were like. Saipan is a tiny remote tropical island. I’m having a joyful time here rediscovering nature!

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  2. Downloading the app. To see if it describes Oregon. I describe it by the events. Everyone here knows what ‘Rose Festival Weather’ means = light to heavy rains at 2nd weekend in June, but the actual parade is gloriously sunny. During our county fair next week, summer will make its last hurrah with high temps and we breathe easier with autumn clearly on the way.
    Thanks, Connie

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