Thursday, January 20, 2011


Abashiri Local Meteorological Observatory observed the drift ice in the Sea of Okhotsk yesterday. A staff of Shiretoko Nature Center said that ice like sherbet was casting ashore and it led to the onset of a full-fledged winter.

The 20th day of the 1st month is called Hatsuka-shogatsu(二十日正月). On this day, all of the events related to Shogatsu finish. In the old days it was thought that the god of the New Year came back to the sky, and Kagami-Biraki(鏡開き: eating New Year's rice cakes) used to be held on this day.
According to system of 24 seasonal divides that originated in ancient China, today is the coldest day in winter called Daikan(大寒).  It's very cold about this time of the year.

The second coldest day called Shokan(小寒) was January 6th.  We can send a midwinter greeting card (寒中見舞い, Kanchu-mimai ) during the period from Shokan to Rissyun(立春:the first day of spring, February 4th).

The ninth day from Shokan is called Kanku(寒九). Coldness and drying keep away bacteria from developing during this period, so sake brewers used to draw water on this day. Even now a brewer draws mountain water on the day of Kanku.

Body trainings such as midwinter training and midwinter swimming are held during the period.

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