Twenty-Four Seasons No. 6 [Kokuu]
The word ``Kokuu'' comes from the word, ``When it rains, it moistens a hundred grains.'' It is said to mean ``the crops are moistened by the soft spring rain.''
This is the time when the previously unstable spring climate becomes stable, with snow no longer falling during Qingming, and frost no longer falling during Kokuyu.
It is said that the rain-soaked fields become a good season for sowing seeds. In the southern regions, dragonflies begin to fly, people put away their winter clothes and stoves, and start changing their clothes. Farmers use this as a guide for preparing for rice planting.
Now, I would like to introduce the events that take place during late spring (Kokuu).
[Events during the Qingming period]
April 29th: Showa Day (Emperor Showa's birthday)
May 2: [Miscellaneous] Eighty-eighth nights (Hachiju Hachiya)
May 3rd: Constitution Day
May 4th: Greenery Day
May 5th: Boy's Festival
After the 6th season of the 24 solar terms, ``Kokuu,'' comes the 7th season, ``Ritsuka.''
End of spring and start of summer. Summer has finally begun.
Let's enjoy the changing seasons!
[Miscellaneous] Eighty-eight nights (Hachiju Hachiya)
Zosetsu is a day that marks a turning point in the change of seasons other than the 24 solar terms and the 5 seasonal seasons.
In addition to ``Hachijuhachiya'', other festivals include ``Doyo no Ushi'', ``Setsubun'', and ``Higan''.
The miscellaneous festivals have the meaning of supplementing the 24 solar terms, allowing us to more accurately grasp the changes in the seasons throughout the year. It was created based on daily life and agricultural work, and has been integrated into the lives of Japanese people since ancient times. Many of these events are familiar to us as they are annual events and folk events.
``Hachijuhachiya'' means ``88th day'' from the first day of spring, and marks the transition from spring to summer, and preparations for summer begin on this day. Around the end of April, beginning of May.
This year, 2023, it falls on May 2nd.
Eighty-eighth nights are the season for fresh tea.
As the song goes, ``Summer approaches, eighty-eight nights~'', the season is getting warmer as early summer approaches. It has been considered an important day for people engaged in agriculture since ancient times.
Fresh tea is a lucky charm!
The tea made from the new leaves picked during this period is called ``new tea'' and ``first tea.''
It is said that ``drinking 88 night tea will extend your life'' and ``you can stay healthy for a year.'' In Japan, it has been said since ancient times that the first fruits are full of vitality, and it is believed that you can absorb that energy, and that eating the first fruits of the season can extend your life by 75 days, known as the ``75 days of first fruits.'' Many of the ``customs of honoring first fruits'' still remain.
It has also been said that in the case of ``Hachijuhachiya,'' it is auspicious because it was picked on the day of the end of the year.
Tea leaves can be harvested 3 to 5 times a year.
Depending on when the tea is picked, it is given names such as Ichibancha (new tea), Nibancha, Sanbancha, and Autumn/Winter Bancha, and it is generally said that the earlier the tea is picked, the higher the quality and the more delicious it will be.
It is said that it contains more than three times as much theanine, which is a sweet and savory ingredient, as second-grade tea and later teas. However, the longer the new buds grow, the more the theanine content decreases, so it is not possible to grow them too late. However, if it is too early, you will end up with a small harvest, so timing the harvest is important.
Among the sayings of the 88 nights, there is the phrase ``the farewell frost of the 88 nights.''
It is said that around the 88th night, there will be fewer days of frost, making it suitable for tea picking and sowing, and the harvest is harvested all at once by monitoring the progress of the season.
However, on the other hand, there is something called ``Ninety-Nine Nights of Crying Frost.''
Due to the still unstable spring climate, sudden cold air may arrive and late frosts may occur. If frost occurs between the time the tea leaves open and the time they are picked, the soft parts of the new buds will suffer frost damage, causing the new buds to turn brown and cause serious damage to the tea plantation.
To prevent this from happening, the tea plantations where the new buds sprout 88 days ago use anti-frost fans and other equipment to carefully grow the tea leaves until the day they are picked.
How to make delicious fresh tea
The amount of tea leaves needed to brew delicious new tea is 2 teaspoons per person. The temperature of the hot water is 70-80℃, the amount of hot water is 150-200ml, and the extraction time is about 40 seconds.
①Put the tea leaves into the teapot.
The more tea leaves you add, the deeper the flavor will be.
②Pour hot water into a teacup, let it cool to 70-80℃, and pour it into a teapot.
③After brewing for about 40 seconds, gently turn the teapot 2-3 times.
This allows the tea leaves to open up and bring out the flavor.
④ Pour evenly little by little and squeeze out every last drop.
Fresh tea is also popular as a gift, and you can enjoy the fresh scent and taste of fresh green tea.
I definitely want to enjoy the scents of the season.
During the rainy season, Japan enters Golden Week, a long holiday.
This year, due to the relaxation of coronavirus countermeasures, the wearing of masks has been relaxed, and it is now possible to travel overseas without entry restrictions to almost all countries. It is expected that there will be a large number of people traveling domestically and visiting tourist destinations.
Meanwhile, when it comes to the weather, normally this time of year is said to be a season where the temperature is relatively mild and it is easy to enjoy traveling and sightseeing, but in recent years, the cold has suddenly returned, and there has been a ``return of the cold'' and a spring rain front. It is not uncommon for the weather to be bad due to stagnation.
Additionally, families with children often hold celebratory events for their children, such as Children's Day and Boy's Festival. What kind of Golden Week will you enjoy this year?
Enjoy the refreshing greenery of early summer while feeling the changing seasons!