Winter is Half Over! Heralding Spring's Arrival in January

 

Winter-is-half-gone

A typical Japanese New Year greeting goes like this: I humbly congratulate you in this early spring (Hatsu-haru no o-yorokobi o mōshiagemasu).

Japanese New-Year Card

Typical Japanese New Year card referring to January 1st as “early spring” (hatsuharu).

Seeing the Glass Half Full

Thinking of January as early spring seems a bit counterintuitive, but the logic is simple:

In late December, though the weather is cold and nights are long, they don’t get longer any more.

Light begins to overcome darkness. Slow at first, but picking up speed by the passing of every day.

Bright-red kaki persimmons are hung to dry under the bright sun, and glorious flowers such as wild Camellias (called Yabu-Tsubaki, which we get our Camellia oil from) begin to bloom.Japanese wild Camellia (Yabu Tsubaki)

The promise of coming of spring is unmistakably in the air. It takes just a little stretch to see the glass half-full: Why not call late-winter early-spring instead?

Solstice Marks Mid-winter

According to Japanese almanac winter begins on November 7th on a day called Risshū.

By the time winter solstice (called Tōji) arrives, which typically happens on December 22, winter is half over!

Japanese Yuzu bath (Yizu-Yu)Tōji is a day of celebration filled with age-old traditions. One of the most popular traditions of Tōji is taking a hot yuzu (Japanese citron) bath, called Yuzu-Yu, to ward off evil and prevent from catching a cold.

Tōji marks mid-winter. Spring will arrive in Japan in about 6 weeks.

Spring in Early February

In the Japanese Almanac spring begins on February 4th on one of the most important days in the year day called Risshun.

As it happens, beginning of February is when days become longer noticeably faster day by day.

It is also the time when whales embark on their great northward migration, pretty pink plum blossoms begin to appear, and elegant Japanese white-naped cranes arrive in large numbers where we are in south Kyushu.

By early February life gets on the move and signs of spring are everywhere.

WAWAZA Staff Writers

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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WAWAZA Staff Writers

About 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.

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