Early Spring・初春

Poetic Name (Mei)

 銘 

Description / source poetry


Waka-mizu

若水

The 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


Wayfaring Crow

 

旅烏

Tabigarasu

A wayfaring crow

Returns to its old nesting tree

Covered in plum blossoms

 

旅烏

古巣は梅に

なりにけり

tabigarasu / furusu wa ume ni / narinikeri 

Bashō (Spring 1685)

 

English translation by Sōmu Wojciński


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




Creative Commons Licence 

Adam Sōmu Wojciński, 2018 

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