Shichijuni-kou (72 Seasons) Calendar Listing
初秋, Shoshu: "Early Autumn"
Season No. 14: 処暑, Shosho
"The Limits Of The Heat"
|Poufs of homegrown cotton decorates an autumn wreath woven by a friend of mine.|
Wata No Hanashibe Hiraku
"Cotton Flowers Open"
(August 23 -August 27)
The gradual setting in of dry, crisp evening air causes cotton and other seed pods to split and pop open with a snap. On my morning walks, I notice the grass beneath my feet has changed from the lush, vivid green I took for granted to a rusty, tired mat of ochre and tan. Jumping spiders and tiny grasshoppers dash out of my way as I swish through. It's easy to see that despite the heat of the noonday sun, for some species, summer is over and the race to procreate before the frost is in full swing.
Flower Of The Season: 紅葉葵, Momiji Aoi, Scarlet Rose Mallow
|A mammoth scarlet rose marrow sways in front of an old country home in Shiga.|
Taste Of The Season: 赤唐辛子, Akatougarashi, Red Chilies
"Crimson pepper pod
Add two pairs of wings
Darting Dragonfly!" -Matsuo Basho
|Chilies drying in the early autumn sun (Shigaraki No Sato, Koka City, Shiga Prefecture).|
|Passing by Kyoto's famous Shichimiya Honpo shop on Sannenzaka Slope (2004).|
|A fragrant bowl of shichimi powder in a farmer's market cafeteria (Shiobara, Tochigi 2007).|
|A very kind and genki (vibrant) shichimi vendor (Kusatsu Hot Springs, Gumma Prefecture, 2004).|
Critter Of The Season: とんぼ, Tombo, Dragonfly
|An akiakane (Sympetrum frequens) rests on a weathered bench (Toride, Ibaraki 2010).|
|Making friends with the akiakane dragonfly.|
Japan has around 200 species of dragonfly, coming in nearly every color of the rainbow, from yellow to purple. But the akatombo (red dragonfly) is the quintessential insect of autumn, swarming around parks and parking lots by the hundreds, especially in areas where rice paddies are prevalent. But as we've been seeing with swallows, fireflies and other creatures dependent on natural watershed habitat, the number of akatombo dragonflies has been decreasing with the loss of rice paddies nation-wide. The more the Japanese diet slowly changes from locally-grown rice to processed wheat products like noodles and bread, the faster the rice paddies disappear. In the meantime, more territorial, brownish-colored akiakane dragonflies like the one here perched on my finger have overrun much of akatombo's habitat.
I've only seen the beautiful, blood-red akatombo three times in my life and I'd love to see more. So over the past few years, I've made it a point to keep Japanese rice as my primary staple food. We do what we can for the environment, right?