Early Spring・初春

Poetic Name (Mei)

 銘 

Description / source poetry


Waka-mizu

若水

mineThe first water drawn for the New Year. 'Waka’ means ‘egoless, awakened to one’s divine heart’. ‘Mizu’ means ‘water’. The time for drawing the first water of the day for chanoyu is at or just prior to daybreak, when the water is charged with the special vitality of yin (night) shifting to yang (day). The time when the qi of the land changes to the new day is the time of the tiger, between 3am and 5am. The time of the tiger is yang. Daybreak falls in the time of the rabbit, between 5am and 7am. In the "Tea Records" (Kai 會) chapter of the Nampō Roku, Rikyu seems to have fetched waka-mizu water in tsurube mizusashi for his New Year’s chanoyu. He decorates the hinoki water pail with a shime-nawa and places it in the chashitsu before commencing his chanoyu at daybreak.

Image: @minenomatsu


Spring Thaw

 

A term that describes the annual snow and ice melt of North America. Native American Indians and Aboriginal Canadian groups celebrate the Spring Thaw with a pow wow. 

Image: James Westwater jameswestwater.com


Breath of a Blackbird

 


First Green Flare

 

Taken from the poem of the same name by Sidney Wade.

“There is that single day, or hour, every year in early spring when the fresh new green leaves are dazzlingly lit from inside. This coincides with the return of the birds. It is ache-making.”

- Sidney Wade

Image: @minenomatsu


Nightingales’ Inn (among plum blossoms)

 

鶯宿梅

Ōshukubai

The poetic name Ōshukubai (nightingales’ inn nestled among plum blossoms) comes from the ‘Ōkagami’ (大鏡) collection of historical tales from the Heian Period 794 to 1185. One of the tales tells the story of when Emperor Marakami (926–967) requested a new plum tree be found to admire, as the blossoms of the plum tree on the grounds of Seiryō-den (the Emperor’s quarters inside the Imperial Palace) had finished for the year. Servants of the court went out searching for a beautiful plum tree befitting the Emperor’s garden. They found such a specimen in the garden of a local dwelling. When the imperial servants were about to move the tree, the owner of the house requested that she be allowed to tie a letter to a branch of the plum. Her wish was granted and the tree was delivered to the palace complete with the letter fixed to one of the branches. The plum tree was planted in its new home and the Emperor was admiring the tree when he noticed the letter tied to the branch. He undid the letter to find a tanka poem composed in elegant handwriting. It read: 

 

勅なればいともかしこし鶯の宿はと問はばいかが答へむ」

choku nareba itomo kashikoshi 

uguisu no yado wa to towaba
ikaga kotaemu

 

Should my Emperor

Wish for my humble plum tree,

Honoured, may I muse:

How to tell the nightingales

Where their home has gone this spring?

 

It turned out that the poem was composed by the daughter of esteemed poet Ki no Tsurayuki. The plum tree was adored by Tsurayuki in the years before it found its new home. 

 


Infant Wild-grass

 

若草

Wakakusa

As new growth sprouts in the fields, the colours of withered grass changes to fresh, young green. In the warm sunshine, the tiny wildflowers of the field grasses also start to blossom.

Image: @minenomatsu


Cherry Mist

花霞

Hanagasumi

From afar, the first glimpses of a cluster of cherry blossom trees in full bloom seems as if a white mist is hanging in the distance.

Image: @minenomatsu


Spring Awakening

芽生え

Mebae

By the roadside, footpaths and in gardens, precious, petit leaves are starting to sprout from the trees and shrubs. Bulbous species, too, are sprouting up form the earth. This mei refers to these treasures of nature. A mei filled with a sense of hope.

Image: @minenomatsu


Utepils

'Utepils' means 'the first beer of the year taken outdoors' in Norwegian. After the long, dark, cold months of a Norwegian winter, the days start to lengthen and a hint of Spring creeps into the air. When you feel a sign of Spring, you invite friends to enjoy the first alfresco pint of the season - utepils (ute = outdoor, pils = beer)
Image: @minenomatsu



Mid-Spring・春の半ば

Poetic Name (Mei)

銘 

Description / source poetry


Dawn Warblers

百千鳥

Momochidori

百 'momo' = many 千鳥 'chidori' = generic for small bird species

At the break of a spring morning, just as the skies begin to grow light, seemingly hundreds of small birds break out into song. This boisterous song of the birds at spring daybreak is referred to as 'Momochidori'. In the Heian and Muromachi periods the 'Uguisu' Bush Warbler was the bird referred to with this word, however now it is used generically to refer to the song of all birds at daybreak.

Image: @minenomatsu


Spring Youth Verdure 

若葉の緑

Wakaba no midori

This poetic name sounds especially beautiful in its original seven syllable Japanese form. The English translation also contains five syllables making it convenient for use in waka/tanka poetry. This poetic name beautifully elucidates the vibrant colour and aura of young foliage. 

Image: @minenomatsu


Fresh Verdure

新緑

Shinroku

Shinroku refers to the return of foliage to deciduous trees. Now is the season when the groves of trees in parks and our surrounds are at their best. New foliage appears and fresh shades of green, yellow and red cover the brown, leafless branches of the winter. In Japan, the pale pink of mountain cherry blossom trees also adds to the beautiful array of soft colours.

Image: @minenomatsu


Grass Whistle

Gum-leaf Whistle

草笛

Kusabue

When the fields become lush with grass, sometimes you can see young ones (and those still young at heart) playing grass whistles. Or in Australia, a gum leaf is also used as a whistle. Now days, children spend the majority of their playing time inside. But running about in the warm, lush grasses of late spring and crafting interesting things with nature is a cherished image in our hearts.

Image: @minenomatsu


Verdue Tempest

青嵐

Aoarashi

Aoarashi is a word that has an image of cool and refreshing breezes and lush late-spring greenery. Added to this is the sublime beauty of untamed nature swaying violently in the spring winds. Being touched by the breezes from fragrant, lush greenery, one feels as though the things lying heavy in one's heart are uplifted and cleansed, and one's entire spirit is refreshed. The aoarashi breezes purify you and fill you with the sublime energy of life.
Image: @minenomatsu


Pilgrim's Trail

遍路道

Henromichi 

In spring, people can be seen making pilgrimages to sacred places. Dressed in white, they chime bells at times of prayer. The smell of the fresh spring soil rises on the pilgrim’s track (henromichi). You might ponder who has offered pretty wildflowers for the stone Jizō statues that look over pilgrims on their journey. “Henromichi” means “pilgrim’s trail” and saying this mei brings to mind all the beautiful experiences of nature and the feelings of devotion on one’s journey.
Image: @minenomatsu



Late Spring・晩春

Poetic Name (Mei)

銘 

Description / source poetry


Rock Azalea

岩躑躅

Iwa Tsutsuji

"Blossoming through rock, Mt Tokiwa azaleas reveal my true love - My stone lips speak his name not, while my heart longs for him in flowers"

- from the 古今集 Kokinshū.

 

「岩躑躅」"Rock Azalea" (iwa tsutsuji).

「思ひ出づる常磐の山の岩つつじ、言はねばこそあれ恋しきものを」

 


Air Perfumed 'Spring'

薫風

Kunpū

Towards the end of spring, the green foliage of the mountains and trees around town glistens in the warm sunshine. ‘Kunpū’ is the early summer breeze that carries the sweet, fresh fragrances of the vibrant foliage.

Image: @minenomatsu



Creative Commons Licence 

Adam Sōmu Wojciński, 2018 

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