Shichijuni-kou (72 Seasons) Calendar Listing
初秋, Shoshu: "Early Autumn"
Season No. 14: 処暑, Shosho
"The Limits Of The Heat"
|One Last Dip (Namiki Cafe, Kure, Hiroshima)|
Climate No. 41:天地始粛
Tenchi Hajimete Samushi
"Heaven & Earth Begin To Cool"
(August 28 -September 1)
|The clash of warm and cool air fronts bring dramatic skies over Mihara, Hiroshima.|
All that meets the eye
Is cool." -Matsuo Basho
The summer was relatively cool compared to those of the past decade. But nights that don't make you wake up in a pool of sweat are always welcome, no matter how early in the year they arrive. The seasonal autumn rain front is hovering over the Philippines while a cold air mass from Siberia muscles its way over the country, giving us soft, breezy mornings and comfortable night air. We'll take it!
Flower Of The Season: ナデシコ, Nadeshiko, Large Pink (Dianthus)
|A wispy, frilly dianthus blossom graces a seaside cliff at Uratomi Kaigan. (Tottori Prefecture)|
Taste Of The Season: 葡萄, Budou, Grapes
|A prize bundle of juicy grapes straight off the vine. (Sakurai Grape Farm, Kasumigaura, Ibaraki)|
|Too many to choose from! (Sakurai Grape Farm, Kasumigaura, Ibaraki)|
The pleasures of eating grapes right off the vine can be had for about 1000 yen and up at orchards and farms that feature budougari (ぶどう狩り, grape-picking). Sometimes there's a limit, but usually one bunch of these globular treats is enough to satisfy (less if your digestive system is over-efficient). Sitting in a clump of soft chickweed and grass, popping grapes like Dionysus under a canopy of floppy green leaves makes for a heavenly afternoon out of the sweltering sun.
Critter Of The Season: クラゲ, Kurage, Jellyfish
The official end of summer lingered only days away on the calendar and I realized that I never took the chance to swim in the Seto Inland Sea like I had promised myself. Fortunately for me, the humidity was still high enough to make late afternoon temperatures linger a few hours around 27C, just warm enough for a light dip before sunset. My summer didn't have to come to a close just yet!
But I noticed that even on the hottest days that week, though the seas were still as warm as they would be in July, nobody was out there in the water except me.
"It's because you're swimming after Obon," a friend told me. "Only crazy people swim after Obon." (Gulp!)
According to legend, once the spirits are sent out to sea during Obon, the waters become particularly dangerous. And woe to the poor swimmer who fails to heed warning: they risk being dragged down to their watery graves.
Not afraid of ghosts and relatively read-up on marine science, I was about to find out the real reason why people don't swim after Obon and it had more to do with invertebrate blobs of goo than aquatic undines. I didn't notice anything until I got home and did a second rinse in fresh water when I felt a burning, throbbing line of raised welt along the nape of my neck. Some hapless moon jelly had grazed me as I swished in the flow of things.
I showed the welt to our local drugstore pharmacist and he confirmed with a giggle that it was indeed a moon jellyfish lovebite, and he knew I'd been swimming after Obon. (Tisk tisk!) With a quick dab of extra-strength Muhi and lycra thermal underwear over my swimsuit, I was back in the water, happy as a clam with a whole extra month to float in wet, weltless bliss.
Moon jellies might drift closer to shore as seawater temperatures plummet. But they honestly, I'm certain, don't give a flying fish if it's Obon or not. ;-)
|A tank full of innocent-looking moon jellyfish. (Oarai Aquarium, Ibaraki)|