A year was divided into 24 solar terms on the traditional Japanese calendar. Kanro is the 17th solar term. It usually begins around October 8th, when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 195°.
Kanro (寒露) literally means “cold dew.” In this season, dew starts to freeze as the air gets colder and colder. It is the time when geese and other winter birds com flying, chrithantumum come into flower, clickets and other autumn insects start singing, leaves turn red or yellow, rice reaping is finished, and biting north winds begin to blow. In the Koyomi Binran (the Handbook of Japanese Calendar) published in the Edo period, it is written that it gets so cold that dew is formed by cold air.
The words concerning food such as Japanese raddish pickles, potatoe stew party, or rice reaping are used as the season words indicating Kanro for haiku poems. Kanro is the season that has close connection with people’s dietary life.
Kaijo Park is located on the site of Yamagata Castle, in Yamagata. Recently, strong efforts have been made to complete renovation of the castle. On the 100th anniversary of the founding of Yamagata City, the Ote gateway to the castle was renovated and is being exhibited twice a year.
In 1356, Shiba Kaneyori built defensive stockades, which became the foundations of Yamagata Castle. From 1592, Mogami Yoshiaki, his descendant, remodeled it over 13 years and completed the present castle's form. After he started ruling his territory of 570,000 goku (a unit of land that can produce enough rice for one person per year), 12 custodians took over from him.
The remaining stone walls and moats give an indication of the original castle. Within the castle grounds is a structure called Saisei-kan that shows a Western style different to the other buildings.
Now, the park is famous as a place to view cherry blossoms and enjoy hanami parties in spring.
Karasuma Peninsula features an extensive community of lotuses, which spread across Kusatsu in Shiga Prefecture. Stretching out for as much as 9.3ha, there is nowhere else in Japan that has so many lotuses in one place.
Lotuses flower between the middle of July and the middle of August. The best time to appreciate them is early in the morning around 6 a.m. The scene of thousands of lotus flowers swaying above the leaves is simply mesmerizing and takes viewers into a timeless bewitching world.
Alongside the lotus area is an aquatic botanical garden established by Kusatsu town and called Mizu-no-mori (Water Forest), with over 200 species of plants. The garden includes all sorts of lotuses and water lilies, and has a greenhouse (where many Southern garden plants and seeds are cultivated), as well as a small theater, which screens films and picture shows of lotus gardens and all kinds of lotuses.
During the lotus-flowering season, the garden opens earlier than usual at 7 to allow the people who have come to enjoy the lotuses to be able to relax afterwards.
The lotuses of Karasuma Peninsula make a charming and captivating spectacle, harmonizing perfectly with the scenery of nearby Lake Biwako.
The Japanese word 'tsuyu' will remind you of 'dew', as in 'morning dew' or 'night dew'. But, there are other usages for this word that should be familiar to you.
For example, tsuyu can mean 'little', as in 'I do not doubt it a little (tsuyu)'. Tsuyu also means 'frail or easy to fade'. Generally, tsuyu carries the meanings of 'short', 'little' and 'sad'.
It is true that dew makes you think of graceful moisture, which will soon disappear if the sun shines or the wind blows. This might be why 'tsuyu' gained new meanings.
In addition, in 'New Collections of Ancient and Modern Times' (a collection of 'waka' poems from 1205), tsuyu means 'tears'; the drops to express sadness. People in the past seemed to have used the word as a sentimental expression. Now, tsuyu is rarely used in haiku poetry to describe the frailty of life.
The sensibility of people living in times when the earth was full of abundant nature is quite different from ours today.
Miho Shrine is in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture and is dedicated to two deities, Mihotsuhimenomikoto and Kotoshironushinokami. Miho Shrine is built in a special way called ‘Miho tsukuri (Miho construction)’ also know as ‘Hiyoku Taisha tsukuri’ and is unique in the way it arranges two ‘Taisha Tsukuri’ (an architectural style for shrines). Another reason why the Miho shrine is distinctive from other shrines is that it uses thick boards of cypress bark shingles (called ‘Tomogawa-jyabara’) and assembles them in layers by nails made out of bamboo to create the shrine’s roof. (This type of roof is called ‘Hiwadabuki’.) Both the Tomogawa-jyabara and the Hiwadabuki are designated Important Cultural Properties. Mihotsuhimenomikoto is Ookuninushi’s (another Shinto deity) queen and is the guardian goddess of agriculture and enduring prosperity. Kotoshironushinokami is the first prince of Ookuninushi and is the guardian of occupations such as fishing and commerce. Miho Shrine is also the head office for a total of 3,385 Ebisu companies around Japan and is respected by people in the fishing and shipping business. A total of 846 musical instruments have been dedicated to the Miho Shrine and have been designated Important National Folk Cultural Properties. The instruments include the oldest accordion in Japan; a shamisen (a three-stringed Japanese instrument) used by the first Ogieroyu (a famous musician during the Edo era) and many other rare and valuable artifacts.
The Kurokami Mountain Range consists of Mt. Kurokamiyama, Mt. Seirazan, Mt. Makinoyama and other mountains, which lie to the east of the famous pottery town of Arita, Saga Pref. The mountains are full of hikers and tourists all through the year. Mt. Kurokamiyama with an altitude of 516 meters is designated as a natural park by the prefecture. It is also given maintenance according to the prefecture’s forestry management plan for human life environment conservation. In this mountain grow very rare species of plants including national protected species of Gleichenia laevissima Christ and Poneorchis graminifolia var. kurokamiana, which you can’t find anywhere else. There are a lot of oddly shaped rocks all around the mountain and many legends have been handed down in this area. One of them goes that Minamoto no Tametomo saved a princess who was about to be attacked by a giant snake, which had behaved unruly in this area. At the start of a trail up the mountain stands a 7-meter stone statue of Taikoiwa Fudoson (the Buddhist divinity of fire). On the way to the mountain top, you can see a pair of Meoto-iwa rocks (husband and wife rocks), which look like rocks drawn in a Sansui landscape painting, and Ryumon Cave. At the top of the mountain you will see Tendo-iwa Rock, beside which is Kurokami Shrine Kamigu (upper shrine). The most marvelous is the landscapes that change according to the seasons; from cherry blossoms in full bloom in April to snow-covered mountainside in winter. From there you can go farther to Mt. Seirazan. You can command a panoramic view from the top of this mountain.