Gentle rains of early May

Gentle rains of early May

Posted by Yukiko Kisaki on 2nd May 2018

Japanese priestess ladies in Miyazaki Shrine

A sure sign of summer’s arrival in Japan is warm, pleasant rains of early May, called samidare.

The picture above was taken in Miyazaki Shrine. The priestess ladies are about to begin their workday, which includes tasks such as sacred cleansing, ritual dances as well as running the Shrine’s shops.

In the traditional Japanese calendar, summer begins on May 5. This all-important date is also the Children’s Day national holiday ( kodomo no hi) and Iris Day (ayame no hi).

Among the oldest traditions observed on this day are preparing baths with iris leaves ( shōbu-yu), and displaying potpourri decorations made from iris and yomogi leaves (kusudama).

It has been raining for the past two days. Rivers are full, and their banks are covered with yomogi and vivid-colored ayame irises.

The following haiku was written by Issa Kobayashi (1763 – 1828) over two centuries ago. It still rings fresh today!

After the rain

colors of a deep rainbow

irises

(ama-agari / nanairo fukashi / hana-ayame)

vivid ayame irises and Japanese women