Poetic Name (Mei)
Description / source poetry
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.
Spring Youth Verdure
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.
山霞 / Yama kasumi
みの山の / minoyama no
みねにおいたる / mine ni oitaru
たまがしわ / tamagashi wa
くもかとみえしは / kumo ka to mieshiwa
かすみなりけり / kasumi narikeri
正三位千種有功 / Shōsani Chigusa Arikoto
The emperor oaks
observing from the lush green
peak of Mount Mino
Disguise themselves as spring clouds
Veiled in sun and mountain haze
Senior Grade of Third Court Rank, Chigusa Arikoto
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.
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.
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.
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.
Amacha is a Japanese herbal tea made from fermented leaves of Hydrangea macrophylia. This tea contains phyllodulcin, a sweetener 400-800 times sweeter than table sugar (sucrose) or 2 times sweeter than saccharin.
This tea is used in ceremonies celebrating Buddha's Birthday, in Japanese Buddhism on April 8. Amacha is poured on small Buddha statues decorated with flowers, symbolic of the sweet rain said to have fallen after the Buddha's birth. This is not an act of worship; it is an expression of gratitude for the teachings of Buddha brought forth.
Siddharta Gautama was born approximately 2,560 years ago near the present border between India and Nepal. His father, King Suddhodana of the warrior Shakya clan, ruled a small bur prosperous kigdom during a time of peace. His mother, Queen Mahamaya, had a dream prior to his birth. A white elephant, symbolic of a deity, told her that she would bear a son who would become a buddha, an enlighted one. As the birth neared, Queen Mahamaya, following the custom of the time, began her journey to her parent's home. As her party passed Lumbini's Garden she stopped to rest among the beautiful flowers. Unexpectedly, she went into labor and her son was born. Legend says he emerged from her side, took seven steps, and proclaimed, "Abobe the heavens and below the heavens I alone am most noble." This is "the birth cry of the Buddha." All creatures rejoiced and a sweet rain began to fall. With no reason to continue the journey, Queen Mahamaya returned to the castle. Sadly, she died seven days later. This too fulfilled a then current belief that the mother of a buddha died seven days after his birth.
In mid to late Spring, glorious purple waves of wisteria hand drunk in their own perfume and dance in warm zephyrs. This tipsy dance of floral majesty is referred to as 'fuji-nami' or 'wisteria wave'.