It rains a lot here in London these days and it is ‘Tsuyu 梅雨’ the Rainy season in Japan now too. Japanese like associating things with each season and we have a special name ‘Kigo 季語’ for those words that describe seasons in songs and poems like ‘Haiku‘. For instance they can be from weather (Snow), astronomy (Full Moon), event (Rice planting, ‘Hanami‘ Cherry Blossom viewing) or food (Clam, Wasbi). Of course plants and flowers are very seasonal and they are also Kigo.
So what kind of thing can be Kigo for this ‘Tsuyu‘ Rainy Season? There are several things that reminds me of Rainy days and one of the things I am very certain that most Japanese people would associate with must be ‘Ajisai / Hydrangea’ and a Snail. The plant grows and glorifies the flower during the Rainy season and the colour of the flower (OK, I know it is actually calyx and not petal) intensifies in rain and deepens. Strangely there is always a snail or two on a leaf. Ajisai and a Snail are inseparable in Japan.
During Tsuyu season it rains day in, day out, but you cannot just live in a life dark and dull. You need to brighten up your feeling as Hydrangea is getting more and more beautiful in rainy days.
I tried creating several sweets in a theme of ‘Tsuyu’ for this month. ‘A leaf on a Puddle’ in my previous post was one of them and this ‘Ajisai/ Hydrangea’ was another.
The weather has been a little crazy in England. We had a short heat wave about three weeks ago and then it became very cold for a week. It suddenly became much hotter again and the temperature jumped up about 10 degree. Then again it became rainy for the last few days. It was thundering with heavy rain the other day but now at this moment …
‘Tsuyu (Rainy Season)’ is coming
The weather in Japan seems also a little strange this year. In some northern part it snowed right after the temperature was 30℃. However, it is June now and the one thing we are sure is that the ‘Tsuyu‘ is coming to Japan soon most definitely. ‘Tsuyu‘ is the Rainy season written as ‘梅雨‘ in Japanese. The first character ‘梅‘ means Plum and the second one ‘雨‘ is Rain. So why could ‘Plum-Rain’ mean Rainy Season?
There are several theories regarding the word. [Theory 1] It is because it’s the season Plum fruits ripen. [Theory 2] The word ‘Baiu (黴雨)’ came from China meaning as Rainy Season a long time ago. The first character ‘黴’ means ‘Mould’. Because in high humidity things gets mouldy easily so then it was actually ‘Mouldy Season’. However, people in Japan did not like the sound of Mouldy Season so changed the character ‘黴’ to ‘梅’ which has the same sound ‘Bai’. Now the Rainy Season is written as ‘梅雨’ and read either ‘Baiu’ or ‘Tsuyu’.
A Leaf on a Puddle
I wanted to make a Japanese sweet in the theme of Rainy Season. I tried several ideas and then a Puddle image popped into my mind.
This sweet is created from an image of a puddle with a leaf floating on its surface. Rain has been stopping for a while but some droplets have just started falling onto the puddle to make a swirl and some bubbles.
It was ‘RHS Chelsea Flower Show’ week last week. It is the biggest Flower show on earth and people from all over the world exhibit their design and display. I am not a member of RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) but love to go there whenever it is available. Although I was not expecting that would happen to me this year, I got a ticket accidentally so I went to view beautiful gardens.
My Chelsea viewing starts as soon as I come out from the tube station. The nearest station to the show is Sloan Square which leads to King’s Road with lots of clothes shops. During the Flower Show period many shops around there use flowers as a part of their window display. I always wander around there before walking towards the show.