I recently met a friend at a Time studies conference and she gave me an awesome gift–a book called Kurashi no koyomi くらしのこよみ edited by the Utsukushii Kurashikata Institute うつくしいくらしかた研究所 and published by Heibonsha 平凡社. The title Kurashi no koyomi basically means “almanac for living” and what the book is is a beautiful guide to the traditional 72 seasons of the year!
There is an entry for each of the 72 seasons. Each entry has a beautiful photo wonderfully illustrating the micro-season, a brief explanation of the season, a seasonal haiku complimenting it along with an explanation of the haiku, and a short bio of the poet. Following that is a seasonal fish/ seafood, a seasonal vegetable, a seasonal fruit or flower, and any other type of food particular to the time of year. Then finally there is a seasonal “fun” activity–usually something traditionally done every year like, fireworks, cherry blossom viewing, etc.
In the paragraph above I put “fun” in parentheses because one of the activities is “summer rain,” as in going out in the rain or watching the rain. In Japanese it says kisetsu no tanoshimi 季節のたのしみ which means enjoyment of the season. At first I thought, “I really wouldn’t call being out in the rain ‘fun,'” but then I thought it gets so hot and humid here, that yeah, maybe I should embrace the rain and enjoy it. In fact I used to love sitting on my porch at home during rain storms in the summer… 懐かしい.
Here are a few shots of what the book looks like:
(Above) Each entry/chapter is 6 pages long. The season is indicated on the right page (1st page), and a haiku, explanation, and poet bio are on the left (2nd page).
(Above) Next is the seasonal fish (right, 3rd page) and seasonal vegetable (left, 4th page).
(Above) Finally there is a seasonal flower or fruit (right, 5th page) and lastly the seasonal fun activity or enjoyment (left, 6th page).
I’d like to start composing haiku in Japanese more regularly, so this book is going to be a tremendous resource of inspiration. Reading it regularly will also encourage me to stop and smell the roses and not let the days just zoom-by.