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五月〈皐月〉May / Satsuki



三方を山で囲まれた京都の五月は新緑の山から吹く爽やかな風に包まれ、一年でもっとも気持ちの良い季節となります。そして、その爽やかな風と共に葵祭りを始め、様々な神事が行われたり、鴨川に納涼床が出たりと、夏の訪れを次第に感じるようになります。

Kyoto’s microclimate is the result of its being enclosed by mountains on three sides. In May, the most temperate month, one can feel the verdant greenery on the breezes that flow off the mountains’ surfaces as leaves burst on the awakening branches that clothe them. These winds usher in the Aoi Matsuri, the “Hollyhock Festival”, with its accompanying Shinto ceremonies and rituals. Other markers start to appear, such as the noryo yuka, small outdoor dining alcoves on the banks of the Kamogawa, that remind people of their position on nature’s annual course through the world, and summer’s approach.

二日~三日

立春から数えて八十八日目を八十八夜といいます。この頃になると降霜がなくなり、春から夏への節目となります。農耕ではこれが夏作物の種まきの目安とされ、畑では種まきが始まり、茶畑では新芽が出揃うので茶摘みの最盛期に入り、八は末広がりで縁起が良いとされている事からこの日に茶を飲むと長生きするともいわれています。

2nd and 3rd

The number 8 was filled with meaning for the ancients. The 88th day out from the start of spring (Risshun) is called Hachijyu-hachiya, “Eighty Eight Nights”. In itself it seems insignificant, but because of the regularity of Kyoto’s seasons, it is always around this time that the morning frost changes to dew, and that means the time for sowing seeds is at hand. At tea farms the essential first pruning is done, as all of the initial buds have opened. But the visual reminder is the character for the number eight itself. It’s this [ ], and it looks like a handheld fan unfurled. It’s said that if you take time on this day to ponder the moment, drink tea, perhaps fan yourself in anticipation of the coming summer, it will add to your days on the Earth.

十五日

葵祭は祇園祭り、時代祭りと並ぶ京都三大祭りのひとつ。西暦567年頃に凶作が続き、賀茂神の祟りを鎮める為、鈴をつけた馬を走らせたのが始まりとされ、平安時代には単に「祭」といえば葵祭り(賀茂祭)をさした程、由緒正しい格式のある祭礼です。

また、この葵祭りを皮切りに京都で行われる祭りの時には三枚におろした鯖を酢と塩で締め、寿司飯の上に一枚丸ごと乗せて竹の皮で包んだ鯖寿司を各家庭でたくさん作り、親戚や知人に配り、共に祝う風習があります。

15th

Along with the Gion Matsuri and the Jidai Matsuri (the “Festival of the Ages”), the Aoi (Hollyhock) Matsuri rounds out Kyoto’s “Big Three” festivals. During the Heian era, when Kyoto’s culture was being formed, the word “matsuri” was basically synonymous with Aoi Matsuri. And around 567 CE the festival came to be celebrated with the running of a horse garlanded with bells, rung to quell the wrath of the deity mediating the harvest which, historically, had been plagued for some time. The festival took on, in a sense, a life and death dimension. The mood is more subdued today. Mackerel, a fish that signifies plenty and good fortune, is shared three ways: over vinegared rice, seasoned only with salt and vinegar, and wrapped in bamboo leaves. It’s the sharing, the joining of friends and family, that is the focus of the big three festivals today.


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