Setsubun and Risshun

Setsubun and Risshun

Setsu-bun, 節分, Season-divide, has a variable date from February 3 to February 4, and is the eve of Ri-sshun, 立春, Start-spring. On Setsubun, the image of O-ta-fuku, お多福, O-much-fortune, appears everywhere. She is a primal fertility deity who dispels the harsh winter winds which are deified as an oni, 鬼, demon. Otafuku welcomes the return of the spring sun. People call out “Oni wa soto Fuku wa uchi”, 鬼は外 福は内, Demon is out Fortune is in. Risshun is the first day of spring, and the start of the lunar Tora no Tsuki, 寅の月, Tiger’s Month. On this day, everyone celebrates the age they will become in the coming year. Happy Birthday.

Eighty-eighty nights after Risshun, hachi-jū-hachi-ya, 八十八夜, eighty-eighty nights, tea is picked. The date varies from May 1 to May 2. It is a great moment in the life of Chanoyu. It is an impossibility to pick all the tea on one day, the period of cha-tsumi, 茶摘, tea-pick, begins ten days before, and ten days after hachi-jū-hachi-ya. This period of twenty-one days is the source of the name of mukashi, 昔, past, for certain teas. The Kanji for mukashi, 昔, is composed of the Kanji for twenty, 廿, which is two tens, 十十, one, 一, and sun, day, 日, which is the number of days for picking tea. The first tea ‘name’ was  ‘Hatsu-mukashi’, 初昔, first-past, actually means the early part of the twenty-one days, and is better.

Pictured above is a shiki-shi, 色紙, color-paper, pasteboard with an image of a tiger and calligraphy reading:

Rin-rin i-fū yon-hyaku-shū
Tremble-tremble majestic-wind four-hundred-states

Calligraphy by Hoso-ai Kai-dō,  細合喝堂, Narrow-gather Shout-hall, Jū-shoku, 住職, Live-work, chief priest of Ryū-gen-in, 龍源院, Dragon-origin-sub temple, Dai-toku-ji, 大徳寺, Great-virtue-temple, Kyōto. Shiki-shi tate, 色紙立, color-paper stand, kuwa, 桑, mulberry wood.

Tsutsu cha-wan, 筒茶碗, cylindrical tea-bowl, aka-raku, 赤楽, red-pleasure, with design of haku-bai, 白梅, white-prunus, and a mask of Otafuku inside the bowl; stamped Yasaka-yaki, 八坂焼, Eight-hills-fired, Kyōto.

Hi-ga-shi, 干菓子, dry-sweet-of; raku-gan, 落雁, alight-goose, in the form of Otafuku men, お多福面, O-much-fortune mask, and sen-bei, 煎餅, toast-rice wafer, decorated with the face of Otafuku, on a pack of men’s kai-shi, 懐紙, heart-paper.

For more on Setsubun and Otafuku, see also: Setsubun and Otafuku (article), Setsubun Extra (article), Tea in February (article), Setsubun and Otafuku (picture gallery), Setsubun Lecture (video), Setsubun Tea Gathering (video).