Japanese People and Seasons

It’s often said that there are four seasons in Japan, however other countries also have seasonal changes, too. Why people in Japan are very proud of their seasons? One of the internet articles says that annual events in western countries are often associated with religion, political or historical reasons, seasons do not matter. On the other hand, Japanese events and cultures are developed to appreciate and enjoy seasons. Delicate and detailed expression of the Japanese sensitivity is often seen in Haiku, the Japanese short poem expressing the beauty of the seasons.

The culture to appreciate seasons developed in Heian Period, the time The Tale of Genji was written. Ishii says in her book that in this time, the climates were very mild, people had emotional leeway to direct their attention toward the beautiful nature around them.

In association with this, there are a lot of flowers and plants in the tale. A person who counted the number of plants in the tale states in his blog that there are 110 kinds of different plants and those appear 1,041 times in total. Interestingly, among those plants’ expressions, some of them make us think of flower essences. For example, Lady Murasaki wrote about chrysanthemum festival in Autumn to wish people’s health and longevity because chrysanthemum was believed to have those powers. A night before the festival, cover the chrysanthemum with a cotton sheet, then the next day wipe the body with the cotton containing chrysanthemum scent and dew, it was believed that you would live longer. Although flower essence is recognized as a natural therapy developed in other countries, Japanese people in 1,000 years ago believed this invisible flower power could affect our life. If flower essence has been sold since 1,000 years ago in Japan, people living in current society could more easily accept and use it in their daily life.