--- Haiku living together with nature ---

      From the book entitled "Haiku in Twelve Months"
      Authored by Ms. Inahata Teiko.
      Translated by Mizuta Mutsumi


March −Human beings as a part of nature

 March is said to be middle spring according to the calendar. As soon as March comes, though being still cold, we feel relieved and relaxed. And also March is the month of the turning of the seasons from cold to warmth. It is traditionally said that the hot and cold weather last until the equinoctial week. The cold days and warm days come alternately. Accordingly the typical seasonal words which express atmosphere of the first half of March is perhaps harumeku (signs of spring) and the latter half, atataka (warmth).

 March 3rd is momo -no-sekku (the Feast of Peach Blossoms, the Doll's Festival). This festival which we display dolls, wishing for the girls' happiness of future is a beautiful and graceful celebration, which features historical and regional customs. About March 6th is keichitsu. It is said that the insects such as grubs, snakes and frogs come out of hibernation. The trees come into buds, the grasses sprout up, hills and fields become lively or looks vivid. We have an impression that flowing water gets slight warmer from its color and movement. Yamawarau or mizunurum which express these delicate changes. are appropriate seasonal words. At this time of the year people have turned their eyes more closely on nature. We express the impression of this season by using such seasonal words as tanishi (mud snail), shijimi (shijimi clam), migusaou (grass coming out of water), moroko (minnow), yanagihae (daoe, fish like leaf of willow), harushiitake (spring shiitake mushroom). Omizutori is held on March 13th at Nigatsu-do Hall of Todaiji Temple. The day is the climax of Shuni-E. It is the fire festival of telling the arrival of real spring in Kansai. Spring has never come back any more.

 Higan (equinoctial week) is believed to start on about March 18th and to last to about 24th. Spring Equinox Day is the middle day of this week. From this day real spring starts. Many kinds of leaf buds and grass buds can be seen in Saijiki (a glossary of seasonal terms for haiku composers) includes a variety of words to express these phenomenon of the buds of leaves and grasses. The life of people also becomes busy farming like tauchi (plowing the fields) or hatauchi (tilling the fields) naedoko (seed bed), tanemaki (seeding). And also fishermen are busy catching fish that gather to the coast for spawning like sawara (Spanish mackerel), nishin (herring). On a warm and fine day, when heat is waving the air, people are tempted to go out to the field for pleasure. It is referred to as noasobi. When we find the many seasonal words such tsumikusa (gathering herbs) and the names of herbs or wild flowers in Saijiki, we appreciate how the Japanese love nature and live together with nature and find out pleasure in nature.

 It can be said that our ancestors responded to and lived together with nature, though they did not realize that human beings were part of nature. We believe that it is very important for us to recognize and maintain their perception because we live in the time when the destruction of nature is underwent.

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