Life in the Japanese countryside is a life spent marking time. The most noticeable, and celebrated, (and commercialized – there are bus tours for the passionate) markers are the blooming of the cherry blossoms in spring, and the changing colours of autumn. But there are literally dozens more, most of them small, for those with an eye on The March of Time.
Kitchengardenjapan’s two favourites are so thus. Small showings, unpretentious but oh-so significant.
February sees hukinotou, wild butterbur sprouting on the orchard floor. A sight to rejoice at, and a delicacy to eat, hukinotou signifies the ending of winter, the start of spring, and warmer days to come. A great shake for a Planter.
The second sight for sore eyes are the blooming of higanbana in the hedgerows and on the paths between rice paddies. Inedible, but eaten nevertheless when the rice crop failed, these beautiful flowers signal the end of another sticky summer and the beginning of Japan’s most clement season. Skies are blue and cloudless; dragonflies perform, and a post-summer serenity settles. Mosquito numbers wane (hurrah!); Even incidental typhoons, hurrying through, end in cyan calm. In the countryside, for the rice growers, it’s a time to get the subsidized (thus doubly) golden harvest in; for us, it’s a time to wind down, save seeds and plot about planting trees. It’s the best time of the year to be in Japan, without a shadow of a doubt. And today, mooching about, I saw the first of the year. Higanbara, Marked.
For those readers considering coming to Japan, mark late September down in your diary. For those of us living here, otsukare! Let the calm times roll…
Kitchengardenjapan, dancing happily.
More on hukinotou: https://kitchengardenjapan.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/the-f-words/