Tag Archives: Autumn

Kamakura at night

1 Dec

Yesterday we drove to 鎌倉 (Kamakura, Japan). We have been there many times but it had been awhile since we went there by car.

I drove there because we wanted to see the autumn illumination (light-up) at the famous, beautiful 長谷寺 (Hase-dera Temple).
At certain times of the year, the temple is lit up and it looks even more spectacular than usual.

During our drive there and back, we could see Tokyo Tower, a beautiful sunset over Tokyo Bay and a clear view of Mt. Fuji.

So many beautiful scenes! Here are some of our photos:

Vernal Equinox

19 Mar

Tomorrow, 2013 March 20th, is 春分の日 (Vernal (or Spring) Equinox).

shunbun

春分の日 (Vernal Equinox) is in the third week of March.
This is one of two days per year that both day and night are an equal twelve hours. It’s also commonly considered the first day of spring (in the northern hemisphere).

This day is a legal holiday in Japan. So, most people have the day off from work or school.

Six month later, in September, is 秋分の日 (Autumn Equinox). That is the other day that both day and night are an equal twelve hours long.
It’s commonly considered the first day of Autumn.
And it is also a legal holiday in Japan.

There is also, of course, 夏至 (Summer Solstice) in June. Daylight is longest on this day. It’s the first day of summer.
And, 冬至 (Winter Solstice) in December. Nighttime is longest on this day. It’s the beginning of winter.

Although both Spring and Autumn Equinoxes are holidays in Japan…oddly, neither Summer or Winter Solstice are.

Maybe you’re wondering how Spring and Autumn Equinoxes are “celebrated” in Japan.
On these days, many people go to their family grave at the cemetery to clean the grave, leave flowers and incense, and remember their ancestors.

Autumn is coming

9 Sep

The weather is still hot and humid in Tokyo now, but some signs of Autumn (秋 (Aki) in Japanese) can be seen now that it’s September.

The leaves haven’t begun to change color yet. That’s called 紅葉 (Kouyou) in Japanese and it does happen in late October or so and it’s very beautiful…especially to someone like me who came to Japan from Florida where the leaves on trees are green all year round.

The signs of Autumn that can be see every year in Japan at this time of year are some foods and drinks that can be purchased now.

All of the major domestic beer brewers in Japan offer special seasonal brews at the turn of each of the seasons. Right now, they’re all offering their various Autumn beers.
I currently have in my house a case of Suntory 「秋楽」 (“Aki-raku“) beer.

Suntory "Aki-raku" autumn brew with 6% alcohol!

This beer’s name translates to “Comfortable Autumn”.
Kirin Beer offers a beer in a similar can called 「秋味」 (“Aki-aji“), which means “The Flavor of Autumn”.

Another sign that autumn is near is when McDonalds in Japan offers their special, popular 「月見バーガー」 (“Tsukimi Burger“).
This burger is only available for a limited-time each year in autumn.  And it’s currently on the menu again.

The "Tsukimi Burger" is currently available at McDonalds Japan

The Tsukimi Burger has an egg on it because the egg looks like a full-moon in the sky.
You may wonder what an egg resembling the moon has to do with anything…

But you’d need to understand that for centuries, 月見 (tsukimi)…which means “moon watching”…has been a popular autumn past time in Japan.
月見, autumn moon-gazing parties, are popular and McDonalds capitalized on that and offered a temporary burger for the occasion every year.

Another recent sign that autumn is approaching in Japan is the increasing number of stores that put up Halloween decorations.
When I came to Japan in 1990, Halloween was unheard of here…but, recently, it’s become much more well-known. But it’s still not really celebrated. Going “Trick ‘R Treating” around the neighborhood isn’t done here, and private homes aren’t decorated. But many stores capitalize on the western holiday and put up Halloween decorations in an attempt to draw customers.

Are there unique customs in your country in the transition between seasons?

紅葉地図

11 Oct

I grew up in Florida. There is no autumn or winter there to speak of. The temperature drops a bit…but the leaves on the trees don’t change colors and it doesn’t snow in Florida.

That’s another thing I like about living in Tokyo…four seasons. Each season is vastly different from the others and each one lasts an even quarter of the year.

Soon in the Tokyo area it will be the time of 「紅葉」 (“Fall colors”) when the leaves on the trees changes an assortment of yellow, orange, and red.

When I first moved to Japan and saw the colorful autumn trees for the first time, I really liked it. And I still enjoy looking at them.

Last spring, I wrote a post about a “Cherry Blossom Map” that showed where the Sakura trees are in bloom during the Spring 「花見」 (Cherry Blossom Viewing) season.

The same company that made the “Cherry Blossom Map” also has a 「紅葉地図」 (“Fall Foliage Map”) that shows were you can enjoy 「紅葉狩り」 (“Fall Colors Hunting”).

Click here to see the 「紅葉地図」 (“Fall Foliage Map”).

紅葉 (Autumn leaves) in Tokyo

October weather

10 Oct

Every year in October and April, when the seasons are changing, the temperature fluctuates a lot and it rains often.

Tomorrow (Monday) is a holiday in Japan. It’s 「体育の日」 (“Sports Day“). So it’s currently a three-day weekend here.
Yesterday (Saturday), the weather was very cool (high temperature was 19°C) and rainy in Tokyo. Today it was raining in the morning but has stopped raining and it’s cloudy now and warmer (about 23°C).
Tomorrow is forecast to be warm (high temp: 26°C) and sunny.

Next week’s weather in Tokyo is forecast to be sunny most days but rain again next weekend…and the temperature will go up and down.
This fluctuating temperature in early Spring and Autumn is called 「三寒四温」 (“Three days cold, four days warm”) in Japanese.

 

Tokyo's weather forecast for 2010 Oct 10 - 17. (Click to enlarge)

I was looking at tenki.jp, a Japanese weather website, to get Tokyo’s weather forecast, and I noticed that it’s possible to compare Japan’s weather to any other city in the world using that website.
So I decided to see how Tokyo’s weather compares to Tampa Bay, Florida (where I grew up).
It’s still quite warm in Florida, it seems. Yesterday, for example, was 19°C in Tokyo…but in Tampa, Florida it was 29°C…very warm.

Last week's weather...Tampa, FL (the blue line) vs Tokyo, Japan (the orange line)

How is the weather where you live?

(By the way, did you notice that today’s date is: ’10-10-10?)

You can balance an egg today

23 Sep

Last Monday was a holiday in Japan, called 「敬老の日」 (“Respect For The Elderly Day“). On this day, people often give gifts to their elderly parents or grandparents. Many kindergartens invite grandparents to have lunch at the school with their grandchildren.

Shoulder massages are common "gifts" to grandparents on this day.

Today is another holiday in Japan…「秋分の日」 (“Autumn Equinox“).  On this day in Japan, and on the 「春分の日」 (“Spring Equinox“) in March, it is common for people to visit their family graves to pay respects.  This custom is called 「彼岸の中日」 (“Higan-no-chuu-nichi“).

The actual date of 「春分の日」 (Spring Equinox) and 「秋分の日」 (Autumn Equinox) varies slightly. Spring Equinox is around March 20 or 21 and Autumn Equinox is usually September 22 or 23. I read online that in 1931, the Autumn Equinox occurred on September 24 and the next time it will occur on that date will be in the year 2303.

But in Japan, 「春分の日」 (Spring Equinox) is always celebrated on March 20th and 「秋分の日」 (Autumn Equinox) is always on September 23rd. The only time the dates change is when one of those dates fall on a Sunday…then the holiday is observed the next day.

「敬老の日」 (“Respect For The Elderly Day“) is celebrated on the third Monday of September. Last year that holiday and 「秋分の日」 (Autumn Equinox) were only one day apart, so the Japanese government made the day between them a one-time temporary holiday so that most people in Japan could have a five-day holiday period that was called “Silver Week“.
(I wrote a post about last year’s “Silver Week” here.)

Yesterday someone asked me if the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes were holidays in America like they are in Japan, and how they’re observed in America.

I know that Spring and Autumn Equinox, as well as Summer and Winter Solstice in June and December, aren’t legal holidays in America. But they’re considered the date that the seasons change. Americans say that the first day of Winter is around December 21, the first day of Spring is around March 20, the first day of Summer is around June 21 and the first day of Autumn is around September 23.
So, in America, today is the first day of Autumn.

In Japan, the first day of every three months is considered to be the beginning of the next season.
Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn each start on December 1st, March 1st, June 1st and September 1st, respectively.

But maybe the American dates are more accurate. Because yesterday was a very hot and sunny day in Tokyo. It was about 33°C.
But today is a bit cold and rainy. The temperature dropped down to 23°C! And tomorrow is forecast to be even colder…20°C.

Another thing that is said about the equinoxes in America is that they are the only days of the year that you can balance on egg upright.

I don’t know where that came from. But it’s an American urban legend that eggs can be easily balanced on the day of an equinox.

How is Autumn Equinox (and Spring Equinox) celebrated in your country?

(Also, if you want to know more about Japanese holidays, read my F.A.Q.).

勤労感謝の日

23 Nov

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, today is the Japanese holiday 「勤労感謝の日」 (Labor Day).

And also, as I mentioned in my post yesterday, we went to the park together today. We enjoyed the time together outdoors in the nice weather by playing ball and having lunch.

It was a nice day.

A few photos I took in the park:

パンジー

Autumn leaves

The weather today in Tokyo was mostly sunny and 14°C. The weather was nice for the entire three-day weekend.

How about where you live? What did you do this weekend? How was the weather?