Autumn Foliage in Japan: Participate in a “Relay” during Autumn

Oct 2, 2016


How to have a perfect Autumn Experience in Japan


Have you ever thought of the brilliance of autumn?

Japan has four distinct seasons, and we cherish pastimes that makes us realize the brilliance of each season. Such custom has grown quite a few masterpieces on Haiku (a Japanese poem of 17 syllables in 5-7-5 in syllabic form,) and even for “non-poets,” we can easily think of what we want to do for each season in order to bask in each of them. Haiku is the way for japanese people to express their feelings and emotions through each and every season. Haiku needs to include at least one seasonal word (Ki-go) in it; for example, frogs, cherry blossoms, and haze are for spring, little cuckoo, iris, and thunder are for summer, red dragonfly, woodpecker, and rice reaping are for autumn, and cranes, (Japanese white) radish, and frost are for winter. In my opinion, various aspects of autumn will reflect characters and taste in Japanese people most. Let us find those aspects and our affection towards autumn in Japan.

 

《A romantic relay》

As you may know, Japanese islands are known in the north and south for its small area. When autumn is coming, various kinds of leaves turn red and yellow, and the “change of outfit” into heavier layers starts from northern part of Japan, Hokkaido, and they pass the baton to the southern part of Japan, Kyushu or Okinawa. As we pass a pink baton of “cherry blossom blooming” in spring from the southern part to the northern part, the relay resumes like a turn made at Hokkaido with a color-changed baton. “Cherry blossom Front” (Sakura-Zensenn) and “Autumn Leaves Front” (Koyo-Zensenn) come up to the topic in news or among people in spring and autumn.
Both Fronts need about 3 months each to complete each journey; “Cherry blossom Front” starts in Okinawa in January and arrives in Hokkaido in the end of April, and “”Autumn Leaves Front” starts in Hokkaido in September and arrives in Kyushu/Okinawa in December. We will be expecting to see autumn leaves when the news about “Autumn Leaves Front” is declared. The relay will surely go through around the area you are living (if you are in Japan,) you should go for “leaf peeping” (Momiji-gari) that happens when you take a walk or drive a car all drenched in autumn colors.


Autumn Leaves Front

 

《Where to go?》

Still, you might be embarrassed when you go for “leaf peeping” because you might not know where to go. However, you can ask your Japanese friends to take you to some recommendable spots, or refer to the useful information for “leaf peeping” in the following link. You will be asked to choose the area and purpose, and will be given a lot of clues.

 

 

《Try composing Haiku》

Japanese people tend to think of “nostalgia” or “loneliness” for autumn, and are liable to be sentimental. Such feelings usually inspire beautiful poetic sense within us, and harmony with the beautiful sceneries of autumn. So, when you go for “leaf peeping,” or feel the atmosphere of “autumn,” try composing Haiku. You can start with poem in Japanese if Haiku is difficult so far.

 

《The baton has been handed to you!》

In the end, let me introduce my favorite Japanese song about autumn. “Red dragonfly” (Akatombo), this song is too familiar with Japanese people to forget. It is a children’s song, and makes us feel nostalgic everytime we hear this. It has four verses, and I would show the first verse for now.

 

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If you are interested in the whole song, please try googling the words, “赤とんぼ 歌詞 英語” or “dragonfly Japanese song.”

 

I would say that the best spot on autumn colors for you might be rather close to your daily life; the neighbor parks, temples, shrines, schools, or your garden. In those autumn colors, you play or chat with your friends, family, or lover. In addition, the memory of autumn can be accompanied by the nostalgia for Japanese people as the song above shows. Try to find your “autumn” in Japan!

 

Clare

Japan

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