Japan’s Microseasons

From ancient times up until present day, the Japanese calendar has divided the year into 24 periods to mark the passing of seasons and accompanied environmental changes that take place in the natural world. Categorised into a broader 72 micro-seasons; each depict the transitions that happen in nature – vividly illustrated through the evocative names given to the different times of the year.

Originally assimilated from early Chinese customs, the seasons were rewritten in the 17th century so to mirror the Japanese times of year and consequential evolutionary changes in nature. In modern times, the microseasons continue as a traditional part of Japanese culture; narrating a poetic story of a year in Japan where flowers blossom, trees shed their leaves and eventually nature returns to a peaceful slumber.

Growing up so attune to nature’s changes, in Japanese culture we are deeply sensitive to our surroundings and our connection with the outside; rooted in our psyche from early on. From the instinctive habit of looking outdoors every morning, to architectural design where windows are seen as framing tools to gaze upon our favourite view – our appreciation for the natural world is most definitely inherent.

This week we welcomed in the start of March, but in Japan this micro-season is named Sōmoku mebae izuru (草木萌動) which translates to ‘grass sprouts and trees bud’ – a time of year to celebrate the coming of Spring and watch as the earth revives itself.

While the trees stretch out their branches and the cherry blossoms begin their bloom, this season marks a time for restoration and rejuvenation as the land slowly comes back to life and vibrant colours surround us once again.

But aside for the glorious transformations in nature, it is an opportunity to invigorate our own lives, whether it be our sense of wellbeing or our home environment – ever wondered why Spring cleaning is a thing? Whether it be the former or the latter, I encourage you to take some time this month to appreciate the changes this chapter brings; longer days, sunnier skies, budding nature and more opportunities to spend time outside.

We hope you enjoyed this journal article and have been inspired by the beauty of nature encapsulated by the Japanese microseasons. You can follow us on Instagram & Facebook where we will be paying respect to these seasons as they fall through out the year.

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