Minazuki is a Japanese traditional name for June on the old calendar. Minazuki (水無月) literally means “a waterless month.” According to the lunar calendar, it falls on the period around the end of the rainy season; thus it means “a month without water.” However, there is another theory that states the 無 character is a particle meaning “of ”and Minazuki is “a month of water,”because it is the time when farmers irrigate a rice field after rice planting. We don’t know whichever is right, but “a month without water” seems to fit more for the image of the rainy season.
In Kyoto, there is a custom to eat Minazuki rice cake, which is made to resemble frozen snow, on June 30 every year. As ice was very precious in the Heian period (794-1192), only the nobilities can have the opportunities to eat ice. Then the commoners ate this rice cake in stead of ice and offered prayers for their good health for the rest of the year.
In late June comes Geshi (summer solstice), when a hot summer begins right after the rainy season has gone.
Soma-Nomaoi is a Shinto ritual annually held for 3 days from July 23 to 25 in Minami Soma City, Fukushima Pref. In this historical event, 500 mounted horsemen in traditional samurai armor ride through the towns and head for the open field, where they scramble for shrine flags of the three Myoken Shrines in this region and pursue unsaddled horses to capture as offerings to a Shinto deity. Soma-Nomaoi has its origin in a military exercise done more than 1,000 years ago by General Taira no Masakado, the ancestor of the later holders of the Soma clan, in which he released wild horses on to the plain for his cavalry to pursue and capture. The residents of ancient “Go (an administrative territory)” act as samurai horsemen, and each “Go” belongs to one of the three shrines of Nakamura Shrine, Ota Shrine, and Odaka Shrine. Soma-Nomaoi was nationally designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property in 1978.
Harajiri Taki waterfall, also dubbed the 'Niagara of the Orient', is 120m wide and 20m high. The waterfall is part of the Ogata River, which drops suddenly to produce a spectacular view. Moreover, Harajiri Taki is one of Japan's top 100 waterfalls.
Water shoots down between the U-shaped rocks creating a booming roar. It is most spectacular in the rainy season when the volume of water increases. The scenery of the river and the waterfall are fantastic, ensuring that Harajiri Taki certainly lives up to the name 'Niagara of the Orient'.
The fall was formed about 90,000 years ago. It is thoguht that the fall's oddly shaped rockface was formed during the eruption of Mt Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture. Water gushes through these troughs as part of the fall. The illumination of the scene at night, imparts a fantasy ambience.