Why just four seasons? Ancient Japan had 72 microseasons

Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Boring. Ancient Japan had 72 microseasons each lasting about five days. They each have wonderfully evocative names like "Spring Winds Thaw the Ice" and "The Maple and Ivy Turn Yellow." We just finished “The Bear Retreats to its Den,” and this microseason 64, falling immediately after the solstice, is called "The Common Heal-All Sprouts.

self-heal-dprouts

Trivia: Prunella vulgaris, aka heal-all, sprouts this time of year near the ancient Japanese capital of Nara and is depicted in figure F below:

prunella_vulgaris

In Japanese it is called utsubogusa ("grass-quiver") and is used in traditional medicine.

There's even a nice free app available.

The 72 Seasons app brings you photographs, illustrations, haiku poems and words based on the poetic names of the seasons, each of which depicts a subtle change in the natural world throughout the year. The app updates according to the old 72 season calendar, approximately every 5 days, allowing you enjoy an ancient yet refreshingly new way to feel the year progress, unhindered by precise dates and times.

Soon you will celebrate “Dew glistens white on grass,” or “First peach blossoms,” or “Bush warblers start singing in the mountains.” Perhaps you can even create your own local observed microsseasons.

Life In Nara Through Japan’s 72 Microseasons (Spoon & Tamago via Hyperallergic)

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