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The 72 Seasons - May 2023


The 72 Seasons - May 2023

May 1, 2023

In Japan, there are 72 subdivision seasons called the shichijuni kou. The seasons are named after the birds, insects, plants, and weather of each change in nature every five days.

穀雨 Kokuu (Grain Rains)

  • April 30–May 4: 牡丹華 botan hana saku (Peonies Bloom)

立夏 Rikka (Beginning of Summer)

  • May 5–9: 蛙始鳴 kawazu hajimete naku (Frogs Start Singing)
  • May 10–14: 蚯蚓出 mimizu izuru (Worms Come Out)
  • May 15–20: 竹笋生 takenoko shōzu (Bamboo Shoots Sprout)

小満 Shōman (Lesser Ripening)

  • May 21–25: 蚕起食桑 kaiko okite kuwa o hamu (Silkworms Start Feasting on Mulberry Leaves)
  • May 26–30: 紅花栄 benibana sakau (Safflowers Bloom)


As the first season in May, peony flowers begin to bloom. Because of its elegant fragrance and prestigious appearance, the peony has many complimentary aliases, such as "wealthy noble herb" and "flower goddess".

Spring is beautiful but short, the beginning of summer starts on May 5. The frogs that awakened in early spring are beginning to croak energetically in the rice paddies and small ponds. The Japanese word kaeru 蛙, or frog, has the same pronunciation as kaeru 帰, to return, because frogs always return to the pond where they were born even if they move to a different place after birth. Frog has long been associated with good luck, as it means "safe return" or "return of money".

May 5th is Tango-no Sekku (端午の節句), also known as Children's Day, a day to wish for the growth of boys. On this day, families hoist carp streamers, eat Chimaki, and bathe in iris (Japanese iris) to ward off evil spirits.

With the temperature getting higher, earthworms cultivate the soil, in Japan, they call them "nature's hoe”. Worms hatch in the spring and become fully active in the summer. Bamboo shoots can be found only once a year and for a very short time. They are soft and ready to eat when they have just slightly emerged from the soil. After that time, they rapidly grow taller and become hard and inedible. Bamboo shoots are usually made with rice, soup, wakatake stew, and sashimi. The crispy texture and the subtle aroma of the wild bamboo make for a full-fledged appetite.

Silkworms eat only fresh mulberry leaves, and they have voracious appetites. At this time, farmers are so busy taking care of the silkworms. The safflower is bright yellow when it first blooms, but gradually becomes redder as it grows. Safflower has been used as a dye since the time of ancient Egypt. It was introduced to Japan via the Silk Road and spread throughout the country. Safflower is the prefectural flower of Yamagata Prefecture.



牡丹華 botan hana saku (Peonies Bloom)


蛙始鳴 kawazu hajimete naku (Frogs Start Singing)


蚯蚓出 mimizu izuru (Worms Come Out)


竹笋生 takenoko shōzu (Bamboo Shoots Sprout)

蚕起食桑 kaiko okite kuwa o hamu (Silkworms Start Feasting on Mulberry Leaves)

紅花栄 benibana sakau (Safflowers Bloom)

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