Late Winter・晩冬

Poetic Name (Mei)


Description / source poetry

Morning Snow



Asa = morning, yuki = snow. Asayuki is the scene of fresh snow laying in the morning.

Asayuki (Kesa no Yuki) is used in the following Bashō poem:


黒森を/ kuromori-o 

なにといふとも / nani to iu tomo

今朝の雪 / kesa no yuki


Black Forest:

Now how should we name you?

In the morning snow


Image: @minenomatsu

Green needle beneath the snow

Source poem:




While the earth sleeps

wrapped in its white cloak,

the cheerful warmth moves

with the dream of spring through its viens


I do not hear their murmuring,

but feel in my blood

a silent expectation

of a green needle beneath the snow


- Viðlag


This modern Icelandic poem echoes the waka poem that Rikyu regarded as one of the foremost examples of the wabi mind-state: 


To those who await only the cherry blossoms,

Show them the spring in grassy patches amid the snow of a mountain village.



Hana o nomi matsuran hito ni yamazato no yukima no kusa no haru o misebaya


In this poem, ‘cherry blossoms’ carries the double meaning of ‘one’s lover’. The rich layers of meaning in these short lines makes it a highly successful poem. A single meaning always escapes us, making it a kind of kōan for our tea practice. One of the attractions of the poem for Rikyu may have been the way it elucidates the wabi mind by seeing profundity in the mundane. 

Image: @minenomatsu

Piercing silence of frost



In the night before a frost, it’s as if you can hear the frost in the heavy, frozen ambience. This is the ’song of frost’ or ‘shimo-no-koe’.

Image: @minenomatsu

The Potted Trees



“The Potted Trees” is a very old noh play attributed to either Kan’ami (1333-1384) or Zeami (1363?-1443?). The play is set in winter. The regent of Kamakura, Hōjō Tokiyori, is traveling incognito as a priest. He seeks shelter from snow at the house of a man named Tsuneyo, the former lord of the Sano fief, now in poverty. The chorus sings for Tsuneyo, saying the cold winds keeps him awake so he cannot even dream of better days. Noting the particularly cold night, Tsuneyo offers to make a fire by cutting his only possible firewood - his potted trees of plum, cherry and pine which he has kept from better times. He sadly cuts them down, places the branches in front of his guest and starts a fire. Tokiyori does not reveal himself, but when he returns to Kamakura, Tokiyori returns Tsuneyo’s lands and gives him three estates for the three trees he ungrudgingly gave up - a plum field, a cherry-tree field and a pine forrest. Tsuneyo takes the deeds to these lands and returns home in joy.

Link to synopsis of the play.

Opaque Cold



Fuyu = winter, kasumi = mist, haze. This mei refers to the haze that hangs in winter, wrapping all things in a ghostly cloud as if giving form to the bitter cold.
Image: @minenomatsu

Budding Plum Blossom


Ume no tsubomi

For many people, the crisp, yet sweet fragrance of the ume in fields and gardens hails the dawn of spring. The ume trees stir excitement in the hearts of people when they come into bloom. From the umeboshi (pickled sour plum) that adorn dinner tables, to ume designs seen on boxes and on traditional clothing, the ume is a subtle, but profound part of the lives of at least the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese.


The ume is a Chinese native that was brought to Japan by envoys made to China before the Nara period (710- 784). It is said the ume flowers of this period where as white as snow. The famous work of Japanese poetry, The Anthology of Myriad Leaves (C.E.750, 'Manyō-shyū' in Japanese), was the first work to portray the elegant beauty of the ume. This collection of poems includes a poem written by the warden of Dazaifu Imperial Office (stationed in Kyushyu), Ōtomo no Tabito. At the time, Ōtomo no Tabito was holding a gathering for ume viewing at Dazaifu:


In my garden, petals fluttering from the ume,

Can snow be falling from the heavens?


For the writers contributing to The Anthology of Myriad Leaves, the white ume was thought of as more aestherically significant than the cherry blossom.


It is not just the aesthetic qualities of the ume thar are valued. The ume was believed to hold mystical powers. One example of this can be seen in Obukucha that is traditionally drunk on the first morning of the New Year. A picked ume plum is put into matcha and offered to the Gods. After this, all member of the family drink the tea.

Fresh Growth



In the mountains, the firm, young buds and new sprouts of the trees become suppler and new leaves start to appear. As well as green shoots, beautiful reds and soft yellow shoots emerge and before long, the notes of a coming spring are resounding all around. This mei is filled with a sense of hope.

 Image: @minenomatsu

Mother-of-Pearl Clouds


Nacreous Clouds


Shinju Bogumo

"Nacreous clouds are polar stratospheric clouds. The sounds in the song represent nacreous clouds because they are at once beautiful and destructive. While particularly rare and stunning, they contribute to the destruction of stratospheric ozone in the Antarctic and Arctic. It is this duality of hard and soft that I wanted to capture. I think it’s important that we bring awareness to the destruction of polar ecosystems. The survival of the environment implicates the survival of all species." - Tanya Tagaq

Snowflakes in a clear sky


In a clear winter sky, snowflakes blow in on the wind, creating a scene of ice flowers dancing in the heavens. The Japanese word is written in the characters for wind () and flower ().

Hothouse Flower




Longing for spring, one tends to some flowering shrubs in a hothouse. Enjoying the artificial warmth, these few precious plants blossom some weeks earlier than they would in nature. The joy is true, but comes with mixed emotions. Nowadays this can be a reflection of the warmer weather enjoyed in usually colder parts of the world. The only thing that is sure is that nature will go on. Humanity is another question

Winter Thunder


Fuyu no Rai

Thunder cracking the frigid Earth's ceiling. In northern Japan, winter thunder is also called 'Buri-okoshi' or 'Raising Yellowtail' as schools of yellowtail fish (buri) start to mature after winter thunder.

Lengthening daylight




'Hi' = day; 'naga' = long.

Lengthening spells of daylight at the end of winter light our nostalgia and anticipation for Spring. Memories resurface when we notice the days getting longer. Our past merges with the present and renewed hope blossoms in the world.

Chatoyant wind 



Hikaru Kaze

'Hi' = day; 'naga' = long.


花信風 (Kashinfū) Flowers on the wind


'Hikaru' = shine; 'kaze' = wind. 'Kashin' = shine; 'fū' = wind. Though the eye cannot see the first blossoms of spring, one can sense the wind carrying their joy. The winter grey lingers, but somehow the aura of flowers blossoming in the distance illuminates the cold air. Kashifū is the early spring wind telling the tidings of flowers.

Pine snow 





miyamma ni wa matsu no yuki dani kienaku ni  miyako wa node no wakana tsumikeri

Deep within mountains, not even the snow upon pines has faded,
Yet in fields around the capital we are already picking fresh greens
- Anonymous, Kokin-shū #19

Image: @minenomatsu