Cha茶月Tsuki is a continuous calendar of important events listed by month
Ya-yoi, 弥生, Increase-life, is the old name for the third month of the lunar calendar, as well as for March. The Kanji are also read iya-oi.
1 Lunar 2nd month, 10th day.
3 Hina-matsuri, 雛祭, Chick-festival. Momo no Se-kku, 桃の節句, Peach’s Divide-passage, was originally a lunar calendar festival. The crescent mi-ka-zuki, 三日月, Three-day-moon, is a prominent emblem of spring. Kyu Hinamatsuri (article coming in Mid-April).
6 Kei-chitsu, 啓蟄, Awaken-insects. The Kanji kei, 啓, means enlightenment; one of the 24 seasonal divisions of the solar year, and the start of the U no Tsuki, 卯の月, Hare ’s Month.
7 Man-getsu, 満月, full-moon.
8 Shio-tsuki Ya-e-ko, 塩月弥栄子, Salt-moon Increase-splendor-child, memorial (2015).
13 Kasuga Tai-sha Matsuri, 春日大社祭, Spring-sun Great-shrine Festival.
15 Han-getsu, 半月, half-moon.
18 Hi-gan-iri, 彼岸入り, Other-shore-enter, start of the observances of the Buddha’s Ne-han, 涅槃, Black soil-tub, Nirvana. Originally a lunar event.
21 Shun-bun no Hi, 春分の日, Spring-division’s Day, midpoint of U-no-tsuki, 卯の月, Hare’s-month. National Holiday. Ne-han no Naka-hi, 涅槃の中日, Black soil-tub’s Middle-day.
22 Tsuitachi, 朔, is the word for the first day of both the solar and lunar months, another word for the new moon. The year 2023 is a leap year, when a ‘leap’ month, uru-zuki, 閏月, intercalary-moon/month, is added between the lunar 2nd and 3rd month.
24 Hi-gan-ake, 彼岸明け, Other-shore-leave, end of the Buddha’s Nehan observances.
28 Monthly observances of Rikyū’s memorial. See Rikyū’s Memorial
29 Han-getsu, 半月, half-moon.
For more information on Tea and Japanese culture in March, see also: Tea in March, Tea in March Part 2, Unryū Gama, Unryū Gama – A Petal Puzzle, Unryū Gama Picture Gallery, and Rikyū’s Take Jizai video
February 2023, U-doshi, 卯年, Hare-year, of the old lunar year.
February 2023, U-doshi, 卯年, Hare-year, of the old lunar year.
1. Lunar 1 / 11. Ei-hei-ji, 永平寺, Ever-peace-temple, start of intensive week of Buddhist abstinence called Ne-han-kai, 涅槃会, Black soil-tub-meeting, display of a painting of the death and Nirvana of the Buddha.
3. Sake cups with images of Otafuku and an Oni are enjoyed on Setsu-bun, 節分, Season-divide; festivities bidding farewell to the past year, with calls of “Oni wa fuku wa uchi”, 鬼は外福は内, Demon is out fortune is in. Daru-ma Ku-yō, 達磨供養, Attain-polish Offer-nurture, Daruma dolls that have brought good fortune for the year are burned with gratitude in temple sacred fires.
4. Ri-sshun, 立春, Start-spring; start Tora no Tsuki, 寅の月, Tiger’s Month. First day of a period of 88 days for tea-picking on May 2, which is called Hachi-jū-hachi-ya, 八十八夜, Eight-ten-eight-night. One of the 24 seasonal divisions of the solar year.
5. Hatsu-uma, 初午, First-horse, first Horse day of the year. Lunar Ko-shō-gatsu, 旧小正月, Old-little-correct-month, when mochi is eaten.
6. Man-getsu, 満月, Full-moon.
8. Koto-hajime, 事始め, Matters-begin, ordinary work begins after the lunar New Year festivities.
10. Kyū-ni-jū-nichi Shō-gatsu, 旧二十日正月, Old-two-ten-day Correct-month.
11. National Holiday. Ken-koku-ki-nen no Hi, 建国記念の日, Build-country-account-sense ’s Day, National Foundation Day; observances at Japan’s first imperial capital, Hashi-hara Jin-gū, 橿原神宮, Oak-field God-palace, Nara.
14. Han-getsu, 半月, half-moon.
15. Ne-han-kai, 涅槃会, Black soil-tub-meeting. Nehan is usually written with kana, ねはん, is Japanese for Nirvana, the death and ‘extinguishing’ of the Buddha. This is a lunar event that is also observed on the lunar calendar: 15th day of 2nd month, which corresponds with the vernal equinox: Shun-bun no Hi, 春分の日, Spring-divide ’s Day.
17. Ni-no-Uma, 二の午, Two-’s-Horse. I-se Jin-gū Shin-nen-sai, 伊勢神宮新年祭, That-strength God-palace New-year-festival. Ise is the location of the ancient shrine dedicated to Ama-terasu Ō-kami, 天照大神, Heaven-brightener Great-god, the sun.
19. U-sui, 雨水, Rain-water: one of the 24 seasonal divisions of the solar calendar, Tora no Chū-ki, 虎の中気, Tiger’s mid-spirit.
20. New moon. Kyū-ni-gatsu, 旧二月, Old-two-month.
23. National Holiday. Ten-nō Tan-jō-bi, 天皇誕生日, Heaven-emperor Born-life-day; Naru-hito, 徳仁, Virtue-benevolence, b. 1960. February 23. Go-dai-riki-son Nin-nō-e, 五大力尊仁王会, Five-great-strong-lord Benevolent-kings-meet, Dai-go-ji, 醍醐寺, Whey-gee-temple, Fushi-mi, 伏見, Bow-see, Kyōto. Go-dai-riki-san, 五大力さん, Five-great-strong-perso, is an event to pray for the peace of the country, and the happiness of the people by receiving the power of the Five Great Wisdom-kings, led by Fu-dō Myō-ō, 不動明王, No-move Bright-king. Its history can be traced back to 907, the era of Emperor Daigo.
25. Kita-no Ten-man-gū, 北野天満宮, North-field Heaven-full-palace, Bai-ka-sai, 梅花祭, Prunus-flower-festival, lavish gathering at the shrine dedicated to Suga-wara Michi-zane, 菅原道真, Sedge-plain Way-truth, where many varieties of prunus are in bloom, and Chanoyu is presented by gei-sha, 芸者, art-ist, and mai-ko, 舞子, dance-child, and others.
27. Han-getsu, 半月, half-moon.
28. Monthly observance of Rikyū Memorial.
For more on Setsubun and Otafuku, see also: Setsubun and Otafuku (article), Setsubun and Otafuku (picture gallery), Setsubun Lecture (video), Setsubun Tea Gathering (video).
Rei-wa Itsutsu, 令和五, Decree-harmony 5.
Ichi-gatsu, 一月, One-month. Shō-gatsu, 正月, Correct-month. Mutsu-ki, 睦月, Friendly-month, name of the first month of the lunar calendar year, and used for January. The lunar New Year begins on January 22. Buddhist guardian of the lunar 1st month is Ko-kū-zō Bo-satsu, 虚空蔵菩薩, Empty-void-keep Grass-buddha.
1. Gan–jitsu, 元日, Origin-day. National Holiday. Lunar 11th month 10th day.
2. National holiday observed. Hatsu Yume, 初夢, First Dream.
5. Hatsu I, 初亥, First Boar.
6. Shō-kan, 小寒, Little-cold, one of the 24 seasonal divisions of the year, start of old Ushi-no-tsuki, 牛の月, Ox-’s-month. Hatsu Ne, 初子, First Rat.
7. Mochi-zuki, 望月, Ambition-moon, full moon, also Man-getsu, 満月, Full-moon. Nana–kusa, 七草, Seven-grasses; seven kinds of herbs and plants mixed in a rice gruel. Jin-jitsu, 人日, Human-day; human beings were created on the seventh day. In Chanoyu, during ro presentation, i-mae, 居前, be-fore, uchi-zumi, 内隅, inner-corner of the ro is directed toward the northeast corner of the Tea room corresponding to the 7th day of the 1st lunar month.
8. Hatsu Tora, 初寅, First Tiger. Hatsu Yakushi, 初薬師, First Medicine-master.
9. Hatsu U, 初卯, First Hare. Sei-jin no Hi, 成人の日, Become-person’s Day, coming of age. National Holiday, which began in the Nara period, originally called Gen-puku, 元服, head-wear, when a child assumes adult responsibilities.
10. Tō-ka Ebisu, 十日恵比須, 10-day Bless-like-necessary. Good luck decorations are sold at shrines and temples across Japan, especially for fishermen and business. Ebisu is the first child of the primal gods, who became the god of fishermen. He is sole Japanese deity of the Shichi-fuku-jin, 七福神, Seven-fortune-gods.
11. Kagami biraki, 鏡開き, mirror-open, breaking the mochi decorative offering, cooking, and eating it. The Buddhist guardian of the 11th day is Ko-kū-zō Bo-satsu, 虚空蔵菩薩, Empty-space-keep Grass-buddha, he also guards the Tearoom. The mirror is sacred to Kannon, and it is used to protect against fire.
14. Shi-ten-nō-ji, 四天王寺, Four-heaven-kings-temple, Ō-saka, 大阪, Great-slope; Doya–doya, sanctified ‘naked festival’. The temple was founded in 593 by Prince Shotoku, who supported Buddhism in Japan.
15. Han-getsu, 半月, half-moon.
17. Do-yō, 土用, Earth-matter; start of the last 18 days to Ri-sshun, 立春, Start-spring, February 4. Each of the four seasons has its Doyō of 18 days, which totals 72 days. Through this system, the year is divided into five seasons; Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Earth.
18. Hatsu Kannon, , First See-sound; Kannon is the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. Most Buddhist deities are male, however, some, like Kannon, are in female form.
20. Dai-kan, 大寒, Great-cold; one of the 24 seasonal divisions of the solar year, and the middle of the Ushi no Tsuki, 牛の月, Ox’s Month.
22. Kyū-Shō-gatsu, 旧正月, Old-Correct-moon; lunar New Year: Mizu-no-to U, 癸卯, Water’s-younger brother Hare.
24. Hatsu Ji-zō, 初地蔵, First Earth-keep. Buddhist guardian of the world until the arrival of Mi-roku Bo-satsu, 弥勒菩薩, Increase-rein Grass-buddha.
26. Birthday of Dō-gen Zen-shi, 道元禅師, Way-begin Zen-master, (1200 – 1253). In 1244, Dōgen founded Ei-hei-ji, 永平寺, Eternal-peace-temple; a Zen Sōtō–shū, 曹洞宗, Official-cave-sect. He also introduced a Song dynasty Tea rite that became part of the establishment of Chanoyu. (Dōgen will be profiled in a future article.)
28. Rikyū-ki, 利休忌, Rikyū-memorial; monthly observance of the death of Sen no Rikyū. Kyū Nana-kusa, 旧七草, Old Seven-grasses; seven kinds of young spring greens chopped, and cooked in a thin, rice gruel, kayu, 粥, congee. Nana-kusa gayu, 七草粥, seven-grasses gruel, the nourishing porridge helps to clear the system of the rich foods of the New Year festivities. The Kanji for kayu, 粥 composed of yumi, 弓, bow, kome, 米, rice, yumi, 弓, bow.
29. Han-getsu, 半月, Half-moon.
Shi-wasu, 師走, Master-run; old name of the 12th lunar month. With all the preparations and holidays in December, it is such a busy time that even the teachers are running around.
1. Lunar 11th month 8th day.
3. Ebisu’s birthday. E-bi-su, 恵比寿, Bless-like-longevity, the first born child of the primal couple Izanami and Izanagi, and the god of fishermen. He is the only Japanese god of the Shichi-fuku-jin, 七福神, Seven-fortune-gods. Often depicted with Dai-koku, 大黒, Great-black, the god of rice, and another of the Seven Fortune Gods.
5. Osame no Sui-ten-gū, 納の水天宮, Settlement ’s Water-heaven-palace, time to settle arrangements with the god. A yearly event that finalizes obligations. Of the many Suitengū throughout Japan, the main shrine is in Fukuoka, which was founded in 1185, and dedicated to Emperor Antoku. Prayers at the shrine are for ease in childbirth and safety on the sea.
7. Tai-setsu, 大雪, Great-snow, one of the 24 seasonal divisions of the solar year, and start of the Ne no Tsuki, 子の月, Rat ’s Month. The Buddhist protector of the zodiac sign of the Rat is Kan-non Bo-satsu, 観音菩薩, See-sound Grass-buddha, goddess of mercy.
8. Man-getsu, 満月, Full-moon. Jō-dō-e, 成道会, Attain-way-meet, the enlightenment of the Buddha. Last day of the eight days of strict Buddhist meditation called Rō-hatsu Se-sshin, 臘八接心, Offering-eight Contact-heart. The Kanji 臘is the offering ceremony according to the lunar calendar held on the third day of the Dog after the winter solstice, December 22. (See below.)
Koto-hajime, 事始め, Matter-commence, start of New Year’s preparations. Kagami mochi, 鏡餅, mirror-mochi, is brought by students to teachers, in thanks for efforts of the past year.
9. Daikoku’s birthday. Dai-koku, 大黒, Great-black, is a Hindu deity who in Japan became one of the Shichi-fuku-jin, and the god of rice. On this day some Japanese, especially in Niigata, celebrate O-toshi-ya, お歳夜, Hon.-year-eve, when Daikoku is offered a special dinner. There is a secret image of Daikoku at the Nichiren temple of Hon-pō-ji, 本法寺, Origin-law-temple, in Kyōto where part of Urasenke is located.
16. Han-getsu, 半月, half-moon.
18. Osame Kan-non, 納め観音, Settlement See-sound, last day of the year venerating the Buddhist goddess of mercy.
22. Ri-ttō, 立冬, Attain-winter; winter solstice, middle of the Ne no Tsuki, 子の月, Rat ’s Month. Regarding the Kanji ro, of Rō-hatsu Se-sshin, 臘八接心, Offering-eight Contact-heart, on December 8th, rō, 臘, offering, is composed of niku, 肉, flesh, and bristles, which may be a reference to the ancient Chinese ritual of ancestral offerings dried meat of the wild boar. The boar has stiff bristles, tategami, 巤, bristles. It is curious that the offering is held on a Dog day. According to the zodiac, the sign of the Dog is followed by the sign of the Wild Boar.
The successive sign is the Rat, Nezumi, 鼠, that has the Kanji that resembles aspects, 巤, of the Kanji for the rō, 臘. Part of the Asian diet has included rat meat for centuries. Perhaps the Rō offering, 臘, was rat meat, and may have an association with the sign of the Rat and Kannon who is the protector of the sign of the Rat. Rats are a symbol of prosperity, because they favor rice, and if one has rice, one is rich. The rat is a familiar to Dai-koku-ten, 大黒天, Great-black-heaven (deva), the god of rice and wealth. The rat has a close relationship with the elephant head Indian Hindu god, Ganesha, Kan-gi-ten, 歓喜天, Delight-joy-heaven (deva).
The Buddha learned from all that he saw and experienced, and the animals taught him many things about human behavior. The rat taught Buddha all about the aggression of the anxious mind, the madness, the curiosity, and the possibility to deal with both thoughts and material goods. In India, Ganesha is worshipped by Hindus in a five-day celebration called Pancha Ganapati, Five-face Ganesha, held from the winter solstice to the 25th.
23. Tsuitachi, 朔, new moon; contraction of tsuki-tachi, 月立ち, moon-start.
28. Monthly veneration of Sen no Rikyū. Osame no Fu-dō, 納めの不動, Settlement ’s No-move, last day of the year venerating the Buddhist deity who is the wrothful manifestation of Dai-nichi, 大日, Great-sun, who is the Buddhist universe made manifest.
31. New Year’s Eve. Jo-ya, 除夜, Exclude-night, New Year’s Eve. Jo-ya gama, 除夜釜, Exclude-night kettle, last Tea of the year. Joy-ya no kane, 除夜の鐘, Exclude-night’s bell; temple bells are rung 108 times to dispel desires to which all humans are subject. The number 108 is symbolic of many things including 6, the number of Infinity in Time, times 18, is the number symbolic of ‘life’. It combines the numbers 10 and 8.
2023 Reiwa 5. Year of the Hare.
The next animal of the Asian zodiac following this year of the Tiger, in 2023, is the Rabbit: U-doshi, 卯年, Hare-year, begins on January 22. It is the year of the Mizunoe U, 壬卯, Water-s older brother Hare. The Kanji for the zodiac animal is u, 卯, wild hare, and the Kanji for the actual animal is usagi, 兎, hare, rabbit.
Toshi-toku-jin, 歳徳神, Year-virtue-god, Taoist and Shintō female deity who determines aspects of On-myō-dō, 陰陽道, Yin-Yang-way, Negative-Positive influences foretold by a Taoist deity, identifies good and bad directions, and predicts the fates of the coming New Year. Depicted enthroned, and holding the hō-ju, 宝珠, treasure-jewel. The E-hō, 恵方, Favor-direction, of 2023 is Mizunoe, 壬, Water’s elder brother, north-northwest.
Jū-ichi-gatsu, 十一月, Ten-one-month.
Jū-ichi-gatsu, 十一月, Ten-one-month. Shimo-tsuki, 霜月, Frost-month, alteration of word for food or rice offering. The shimo is thought to have derived from oshimono, 粮, food, provisions, etc., which is the rice offered during the Ni-name-sai, 新嘗祭, New-taste-festival, ceremonial offering to the deities by the Emperor of newly-harvested rice, held annually on November 23.
Buddhist guardian of November is Kan-non Bo-satsu, 観音菩薩, See-sound Grass-buddha, the goddess of mercy. The 11th month is marked with the Asian zodiac sign of the Ne, 子, Rat.
1. Han-getsu, 半月, half-moon. Lunar 10th month 8th day.
3. Bunka no Hi, 文化の日, Culture’s-day, national holiday.
4. Ichi no Tori, 一の酉, One ’s Rooster; first day of the Rooster in November when shrines and temples open markets selling elaborate talismans for success in business. Tori no Ichi, 酉の市, Rooster ’s Market. These markets are held at shrines such as the Ōtori Jin-ja, 鷲神社, Eagle God-shrine, in the area of Asa-kusa, 浅草, Shallow-grass, of Tōkyō.
6. I no Hi, 亥の日, Boar ’s Day. Theoretically, this should be the day for Robiraki, but it is not after Rittō, which is the following day in 2022.
7. Ri-ttō, 立冬, Start-winter, one of the 24 seasonal divisions of the solar year, and start of I no Tsuki, 亥の月,
Boar ’s Month.
8. Man-getsu, 満月, Full-moon.
13. Momi-ji Matsuri, 紅葉まつり, Red-leaves Festival, Arashi-yama, 嵐山, Storm-mountain, Kyōto. Lunar Ebisu–kō, えびす講, Ebisu-association, held throughout Japan. Ebisu is the first-born child of the primal deities, Izanagi and Izanami, and is the Shintō god of fishermen.
15. Shichi Go San Mōde, 七五三詣, Seven Five Three Pilgrimage; festival celebrating children of the ages seven five and three.
16. Ni no Tori, 二の酉, Two ’s Rooster; second day of the Rooster in the 11th month.
17. A-mi-da Nyo-rai, 阿弥陀如来, Praise-increase-steep Like-become, tan-jō-bi, 誕生日, born-live-day. It may for some difficult to believe that an immortal deity should have birthday. Amida’s En-nichi, 縁日, Edge-day, occurs monthly with the full moon.
19. Sō-tan-ki, 宗旦忌, Sect-dawn-memorial, Urasenke, Kyōto.
23. Kin-rō Kan-sha no Hi, 勤労感謝の日, Work-labor Thanks-giving’s Day; a national holiday.
24. Thanksgiving Day in the United States.
28. Monthly observance of Ri-kyū-ki, 利休忌, Rich-quit-memorial. San no Tori, 三の酉, Three ’s Rooster; third day of the Rooster in the 11th month,
The official Robiraki was held on October 25, 2022, which was not exactly according to traditional custom. This was due in part to the fact that the lunar and solar calendars are greatly out of sync.
Robiraki. October 25 was marked by the sign of I no Hi, 亥の日, Boar ’s Day, which would indicate the day for the opening of the ro. However, that did not happen, as the ro is opened on the first Boar Day of the Boar Month. This occurred after Ri-ttō, 立冬, Start-winter, which is one of the 24 seasonal divisions of the solar year and the start of I no Tsuki, 亥の月, Boar’s-month, November 7, 2022.
October, Jū-gatsu, 十月, Ten-month.
Kami-na-zuki, 神無月, God-no-month. The month in which all of the Shintō deities assemble at Izumo Tai-sha, 出雲大社, Out-cloud Great-shrine.
Kyū Ku-gatsu, 旧九月, Old Nine-month.
1 Lunar 6th Day of the 9th Month. I-no-ko mochi, 亥の子餅, Boar-’s-child mochi. On the first day of the I, 亥, Wild-boar, in the 10th month, special sweets are prepared and enjoyed. These sweets are usually served at ro-biraki, 炉開, hearth-opening. In 2022, the ro is opened on October 25th.
4 Lunar Chō-Yō, 重陽, Multi-Yang; confluence of lunar 9th month 9th day. Chrysanthemums on display. One of the traditional five festivals.
5 Daru-ma-ki, 達磨忌, Attain-polish-memorial, observances are held on the date of the death of Bodhidharma. The cause of his death is obscure, but it was thought that he was poisoned by jealous opponents.
8 Kan-ro, 寒露, Cold-dew; one of the 24 divisions of the solar year; start of the old month of the Inu, 戌, Dog.
Ken-cha, 献茶, Offer-tea, Yoshi-da Jin-ja, 吉田神社, Luck-field God-shrine, Kyōto.
10 Sports Day.
20 Doyō, 土用, Earth-matters; start of 18-day period where certain activities are either encouraged or discouraged.
20 E-bi-su-ko, 恵比須講, Bless-compare-necessary-association, annual event honoring Ebisu, with prayers for the safety of the year, for a good harvest, big catch, or prosperous business. The rites are also held on the 20th day of the lunar 10th month. Curiously, Ebisu, who is enshrined at Izumo, does not attend the gathering of the multitudes of Shintō deities in the 10th month.
22 Ji-dai Matsuri, 時代祭, Time-generation Festival; parade of people in historical Japanese apparel, with floats, Hei-an Jin-gu, 平安神宮, Level-peace God-palace. Replica of the ancient imperial palace, Kyōto. It started in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the transfer of the capital to Kyoto in 794. One of the three great festivals of Kyōto: Aoi Matsuri, 葵祭, Wild ginger Festival, May 15, Gi-on Matsuri, 祇園祭, God-garden Festival, July 17.
23 Sō-kō, 霜降, Frost-descend; one of the 24 divisions of the solar year; middle of the old month of the Inu, 戌, Dog.
28 Monthly memorial observance for Sen no Rikyū.
30 Ten-ryū-ji Ken-cha-shiki, 天龍寺献茶式, Heaven-dragon-temple Offer-tea-ceremony. Presented by Ura-sen-ke, 裏千家, Inner-thousand-family. One of the glorious autumnal events in the Tea Year.
August Calendar for Chanoyu.
August 4. Kyū Tana-bata, 旧七夕, Old Seven-night; a lunar event more popularly observed on July 7.
August 7 Ri-sshu, 立秋, Start-autumn; 24 seasonal divisions of the solar year. Start of the lunar seventh month, Saru no Tsuki, 申の月, Monkey’s Month.
August 10 Mukae–bi, 迎火, Welcome-fire. Small fires are built in front of the home to welcome departed spirits from paradise.
August 12 Kyū Bon, 旧盆, Old Tray, when spirits of the dead return to their homes during the full lunar seventh month.
August 13 Okuri-bi, 送り火, Farewell-fire. Fires that are similar to the mukae-bi, 迎火, welcome-fire, built in front of the home to welcome Obon.
August 23 Sho-sho, 処暑, Limit-heat; one of the twenty-four seasonal divisions of the solar year. The mid-point of the lunar month of the Monkey, Saru, 申.
August 24 Ji-zō Bon, 地蔵盆, Earth-keep Tray; Buddhist rites especially held for children in remembrance of departed spirits, with Jizō as a special guardian. Jizō helps the souls of children cross the San-zu no Kawa, 三途の川, Three-crossing’s River, in the underworld.
August 27 Start of lunar Hachi-gatsu, 八月, Eight-month.
August 28 Monthly memorial for Sen no Rikyū, Rikyū-ki, 利休忌.
July Calendar for Chanoyu.
2 Han-ge-shō, 半夏生, Half-summer-live.
7 Tana-bata, 七夕, Seven-night; a lunar event observed in August, but in most areas of Japan it is held in July. The moon of the seventh night is han-getsu, 半月, half-moon. Elaborate displays of bamboo poles decorated with tan-zaku, 短冊, short-volume, paper strips with prayers and poems dedicated to the stars of Altair and Vega. Tanabata is the traditional beginnings of preparations for O-bon, お盆, Hon.-tray, when departed spirits return home, and are honored on the full moon. Tanabata will be detailed in the August Chanoyu Decoded.
7 Shō-sho, 小暑, Little-heat; one of the 24 seasonal divisions of the solar year, and start of the lunar sixth month, and the start of Mi-tsuki, 未月, Ram-month. The Kanji 未 means ‘not yet’.
9 Hō-zuki Ichi, 鬼灯市, Demon-lamp Market; is a sale of Chinese lantern plants for Obon, at the temple of Asa-kusa Kan-non, 浅草観音, Shallow-grass See-sound, in Tōkyō. The hōzuki plant has many names, and in English is groundcherry. The hōzuki ‘lantern’ is named in part for the hō-ju, 宝珠, treasure-jewel, Cintamani stone, or wish-fulfilling jewel, because of its close resemblance to the covering and the fruit.
The cup of the Ten-moku dai, 天目台, Heaven-eye support, is called hōzuki, 鬼灯, demon-lamp. The Tenmoku teabowl resembles somewhat the conical husk of the hōzuki. The word hō-zu-ki could be written 宝珠器, treasure-jewel-container.
13 Bon begins and end on 15 with farewell fires. A lunar full moon event in 2022 occurs on August 12.
15 Chū-gen, 中元, middle-origin, the fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month, the final day of Bon festival. Gifts are often exchanged. Chūgen will be detailed in the August Chanoyu Decoded article.
17 Gi-on Matsuri, 祇園祭, God-garden Festival, Ya-saka Jin-ja, 八坂神社, Eight-hills God-shrine, Kyōto – one of the three great festivals of Japan. Parade of floats representing various districts of Kyōto. Begun in the 869 to avert a plague of diseases and the eruption of Fuji-san. The main deity of the shrine is Go-zu Ten-nō, 牛頭天王, Ox-head Heaven-king, named for the city of the Buddha’s birth. He is identified with Su-sa-no-ō, 素盞嗚命,Elemental-cup-weep-life, brother of Ama-terasu O-kami, 天照大神, Heaven-brightener Great-god. Yasaka Jinja has a long and very complex history, but remains one of the central shrines of Kyōto. Iemoto offers Tea at the shrine each summer.
20 Do-yo, 土用, Earth-utilize; period of eighteen days at the end of each of the four seasons, in which certain activities are avoided. In some thought, the traditional Japanese year has five seasons, Earth being one of them. This is manifest in the yo-jō-han, 四畳半, four-mat-half, where the half mat in the center is symbolic of Earth.
23 Tai-sho, 大暑, Great-heat; one of the 24 seasonal divisions, and the mid-point of the Ram Month.
Ji-zō Bon, , Earth-keep Tray. Kyōto children praying with a very long string of ju-zu, 数珠, numerous-jewels, as a Buddhist priest recites scripture dedicated to Jizō, the guardian of the world until the arrival of Maitreya, Mi-roku Bo-satsu, 弥勒菩薩, Increase-rein Sacred tree-buddha.
24 Ji-zō Bon, 地蔵盆, Earth-keep Tray; special Buddhist services especially for children.
28 Monthly Rikyūki. , remembrance of Sen no Rikyū, who died on the 28th day of the 2nd lunar month.
29 New 7th Moon; start of the second half of the lunar year.
The Asian zodiac animal sign for the lunar seventh month is the Saru, 申, Monkey. The Buddhist guardian of the seventh lunar month is Dai-nichi Nyo-rai, 大日如来, Great-sun Like-become, who is also the guardian of the sixth month. Collectively, the direction is the southwest, which is marked with the Eki-kyō, 易経, Change-sutra, trigram of Hitsuji-Saru and Kon, 坤, identified with Earth. In the ideal yo-jō-han, 四畳半, four-mat-half, the southwest corner is the location where the tei-shu, 亭主, house-master, sits when greeting the guests.
June Calendar for Chanoyu.
Roku-gatsu, 六月, Six-month. Mi-na-zuki, 水無月, Water-not-month. Old name for the sixth lunar month.
1 Lunar 5/3.
3 Lunar 5/5 Tan-go no Se-kku, 端午の節句, Start-horse’s Divide-passage. Old calendar Boy’s Day.
6 Bō-shu, 芒種, Grain beard-seed; one of the 24 divisions of the solar year. Start of lunar Uma no tsuki, 午の月, Horse’s month.
7 Han-getsu, 半月, half-moon.
11 Nyū-bai, 入梅, Enter-Japanese apricot; start of the rainy season (in Kyōto), called tsu-yu, 梅雨, apricot-rain.
14 Man-getsu, 満月, full-moon.
19 Chichi no hi, 父の日, Father’s Day.
21 Ge-shi, 夏至, Summer-attain; mid-summer in Japan, starts summer in the west.
28 Monthly Ri-kyū-ki, 利休忌, Rich-quit-mourning; memorial for Sen no Rikyū.
29 Lunar 6/1. The true Minazuki, when the rainy season stops.30 Ō-harai, 大祓, Great-purification; major cleaning for the start of the second half of the year.
Events in May
1 Lunar 4/1.
2 Hachi-jū-hachi-ya, 八十八夜, Eight-ten-eight-night; tea picking.
3 Ken-pō-ki-nen-bi, 憲法記念日, Constitution-law-record-account-attention-day.
4 Midori no Hi, 緑の日, Greenery Day
5 Tan-Go no Se-kku, 端午の節句, Begin-Horse Divide-passage. Lunar Tango no Sekku is June 3 (2022). Ri-kka, 立夏, Start-summer. Ko-domo no Hi, 子供の日, Children’s Day.
8 Haha no Hi, 母の日, Mother’s Day.
9 Han-getsu, 半月, half-moon.
10 Sho-bu-ro, 初風炉, First-wind-hearth, first official furo Tea presentation of the season.
15 Aoi Matsuri, 葵祭, Wild ginger Festival.
16 Man-getsu, 満月, Full-moon.
20 Shin-ran Tan-jō-bi, 親鸞, Parent-imperial, founder of Jō-do Shin-shū, 浄土真宗, Pure-land True-sect.
21 Shō–man, 小満, Little-full; grain shows some fullness.
23 Han-getsu, 半月, half-moon.
28 Rikyū-ki, 利休忌, monthly remembrance of Sen no Rikyū.
30 Lunar 5/1.
Events in April.
The first week of April is when the cherry trees blossom in Kyōto. It is also the start of the school year.
3 Old calendar Hina Matsuri, 雛祭, Chick Festival, girls’ day doll festival.
5 Sei-mei, 晴明, Pure-bright, one of 24 divisions of the solar calendar year.
8 Kan-butsu–e, 灌仏会, Libate-buddha-meeting; bathing images of the newborn Buddha.
Hana Matsuri, 花祭, Flower Festival; the Buddhist lotus is revered.
9 Han-getsu, 半月, half-moon.
10 Sai-dai-ji, 西大寺, West-great-temple, O-cha-mori, お茶盛, Great-tea-mound.
17 Do-yō, 土用, Earth-matter; start of the spring period of specific dos and don’ts. Full moon.
20 Koku-u, 穀雨, Grain-rain; one of the 24 divisions of the solar calendar year.
23 Han-getsu, 半月, half-moon.
24 Matsu-o Dai-jin-ja, 松尾大神社, Pine-tail Great-god-shrine; annual festival at one oldest shrines.
29 Sho-wa no Hi, 昭和の日, Bright-harmony; former emperor’s birthday.
Events in March.
Yayoi, 弥生, Increase-life; old name for the third moon, presently the name for March. The Japanese do not use the word March, but rather San-gatsu, 三月, Three-moon [month].
Kai-awase, 貝合, shell-fit; seashells are emblematic of the third month. Part of a bride’s trousseau was a set of one-hundred eighty hamaguri, 蛤, clam, shells, bivalves. Shells are familiar motifs for Hina Matsuri on the 3rd of the 3rd month. There is a game called kai-awase in which one tries to match the shells, and only those two halves fit together, which is symbolic of wedded happiness. There is a half-shelf for the ‘ideal’ lunar three-hundred and sixty days of the year, thirty-day months. The additional five day are identified with the concept of Earth as the center. In the yojōhan Tearoom, the center of the room is identified with the Earth, as one of the Go-gyō, 五行, five-transitions, the five earthly elements. The ro manifests these five elements: earth, water, fire, metal, and wood.
３– Hina Matsuri, 雛まつり, Chick Festival; display of dolls representing the old imperial court. Girls Day. More formally called Momo-no-se-kku, 桃の節句, Peach-’s-division-phrase, it is the season in which peaches bloom. Originally, a lunar calendar event. On this date, the number 3 is doubled 3rd day 3rd month, that in China from which it was borrowed is unlucky. The number 3 is a Yō, positive number as it cannot be equally divided in half.
15 – Ne-han-e, 涅槃会, Black-tub-meet: the death and nirvana of the Buddha, The fifteenth day of the third moon ideologically coincides with the vernal equinox, Shun-bun, 春分, Spring-division – the middle of the spring, and a ‘perfect’ time for the Buddha to pass from this life to the western paradise. It is also called Hi-gan, 彼岸, Other-shore, referring to crossing a great river to attain enlightenment and salvation. Higan is observed in April.
28 – Ri-kyū-ki, 利休忌, Rich-quit-memorial; Buddhist services in memory of the death of Rikyū. He died on the twenty-eighth day of the second moon in 1591. That year, in Japan, was a leap year, urū-doshi, 閏年, intercalary-year, according to the kyū-reki, 旧暦, old calendar, in which a full month is added to the calendar to make lunar events more closely correspond to the solar calendar. In 1591 a second month was added after the first lunar first month, so that the 28th day of the ‘second’ moon occurred on April 21st. Because of the great difference between the lunar and solar calendar, Urasenke observes Rikyūki on the 28th day of March.
Yayoi-jin, 弥生尽, extensive-life-last day; jin, 尽, last day of a month, usually the lunar calendar.