when and where to see fall foliage (Japanese version only):

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hachijuu-hachi-ya(the 88th day of spring)

tea plantation for "Shirakawa Tea" in Gifu Prefecture
photo by syaraku

tea plantation for "Shirakawa Tea" in Gifu Prefecture
photo by syaraku

May 2nd is Hachijuu-hachi-ya(八十八夜), which is the 88th day after Rissyun(立春, the first day of spring). Legend has it that you'll lead a long life if you drink tea picked on the day. Farmers start planting rice seeds around the day and it also contains a warning against late spring frost.
In Nagano Prefecture, crops suffered frost damage in late April.
The Shizuoka Local Meteorological Observatory issues a frost forecast for tea farmers in parts of Shizuoka Prefecture every day from March 15 to May 10. The cherry blossoms are late in blooming in Tohoku Region. Some areas of Hokkaido still have snowy days.

Tea leaves started growing earlier than usual.
New tea leaves from Shizuoka were sold at this year's first auction at the Shizuoka Tea Market on April 15.
Uji(宇治) in Kyoto Prefecture is very famous for its high-quality tea. New tea leaves from Uji were sold at this year's first auction in Kyoto on April 24.
In late April, a tea plantation in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture was caught in a landslide.

We associate the following famuns song for children called Chatsumi(茶摘み, tea picking) with Hachijuu-hachi-ya.

On Hachijuu-hachi-ya, summer is around the corner.
I can see fresh green fields and mountains.
"Look at the women over there. they are picking tea,
tucking up their kimono sleeves with a red band and wearing a sedge hat. "

Daisen Tea Festival(大山新茶祭り) in Tottori Prefecture
will be held on June 2 this year.
 Tea ceremony has a profound connection with Japanese-style confectionery.

Tea schools sophisticated Kyoto's confectionery. There are tree types of confectionery shops in Kyoto: Okashiya-han(お菓子屋はん) sell top-grade confections for gifts, tea ceremonies, shrines and temples. Omanya-han(おまん屋はん) sell manju(steamed buns filled with sweet bean paste) as an everyday confection. Omochiya-han(お餅屋はん) sell glutinous rice cakes stuffed with sweet bean paste as an everyday confection.  However, modern Omanya-san also sell rice cakes.

Matsudaira Harusato
photo by Shimane Prefectural Tourism Federaion

Matsue in Shimane Prefecture is also famous for its confectionery.
Matsudaira Harusato (松平 治郷, 1751-1818) was the 7th lord of the Matsue Domain. He was also known as a tea master under the name of Matsudaira Fumai(松平不昧) and founded the Fumai school of tea. He wrote a handbook for tea ceremony. Wakakusa(若草, young grass) and Yamakawa(山川, mountain and river) appear in the book. The names of both confections come from Fumai's poems.

Wakakusa(left) and Yamakawa(right)
photo by Shimane Prefectural Tourism Federaion
     Wakakusa is a gyuhi coated with green rice flour for spring tea ceremony, and Yamakawa is a dry confection for autumn. Gyuhi is a soft confection made with rice flour, sugar, and water.


  1. Hi Ichinen, thank you so much for this interesting information about the tea and tea ceremony.
    The weather for this part of the world (West-Europe) is also strange. We had a very cold winter and spring arrived since 3 weeks, much too late for the time of the year. Now all plants, trees and flowers are blooming at the same time. I had to think of you because of the hayfever ;)!
    Greetings, Ilona

    1. We are happy to have warmer weather, but hay fever is depressing for us..
      For me, the hay fever season ended in early April!