Japanese Autumn

autumn-foliage-in-JapanIt’s October, and the sights, smells, textures, and tastes of autumn are everywhere here in Kyushu, the southernmost of Japanese main islands.

You can even notice the packaging in local food stores adorned with seasonal patterns such as falling leaves, and autumn colors splashed all over the outside of gas stations.

Awareness of Seasons

In Japan, awareness of seasons is manifested in the refined traditions of kisetsu-kan (sensing of the season).

Kistetsu-kan is about appreciating seasonal motifs, foods, changing wardrobe and home decorations to reflect the season and even using seasonal words (kigo) in poetry, greetings and salutations in emails and letters.

Autumn Foliage

autumn-leavesDuring autumn, leaves of many deciduous tress such as Japanese maple (momiji) and maidenhair (ginko) turn from green to brilliant shades of red and yellow.

People are out and about in parks, temples and shrines enjoying views of autumn foliage in traditional pastime called Momijigari.

Momijigari is also an important element is noh and kabuki theatrical performances.

Traditional autumn floral motifs are commonly incorporated in kimonos, obi sashes as well as in modern clothing.

Nashi Pears

Japanese Nashi pearsJapanese “Nashi” pears look very different than their western counterparts. They are round (like an apple), big and have a crispy texture and crunchy flesh.

Nashi pears are very sweet and juicy and can be eaten immediately after harvesting without waiting for it soften.

Kaki Persimmons

Orange-colored Japanese Kaki persimmons – hanging from bare branches or strung to dry under the sun – are one of the most striking sights in Japan in fall and early winter.

hoshigakiKaki persimmons come in a many varieties. Some, like fuyugaki, are sweet and juicy with a delicate, soft flesh while others, like jirogaki, are crispy and firm-fleshed.

Hoshigaki is sun-dried Japanese persimmons. No preservatives or additives are used in the drying process and farmers typically don’t use pesticides on their persimmons.

The Japanese also use the leaves of the Kaki persimmons to make tea called kakinoha-cha.

Kuri Chestnuts

kuri-gohanKuri chestnuts are the unmistakable sign of fall in Japan. The easiest way to eat kuri is to boil or roast them.

Roasted chestnuts (yakiguri) are a favorite of young and old alike. Chestnuts are also cooked in rice to make chestnut rice (kuri-gohan), and used as filling in a variety of Japanese sweets (wagashi) such as kuri manju, made from rice powder and buckwheat and filled with sweet bean paste.

Here is a famous haiku poem by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) incorporating chestnut as its seasonal “kigo” keyword:

At night, stealthily
a worm bores into
a chestnut under the moon

(In Japanese: yoru hisokani / mushi wa gekka no / kuri wo ugatsu)

WAWAZA Staff Writers

This post was written by collaboration and contributions of the staff at WAWAZA Japanese Traditional Beauty and Wellness based in Miyazaki, Japan.
WAWAZA Staff Writers

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This post was written by collaboration and contributions of the staff at WAWAZA Japanese Traditional Beauty and Wellness based in Miyazaki, Japan.
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