Why just four seasons? Ancient Japan had 72 microseasons


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/23/why-just-four-seasons-ancient.html


So, this is why, in translation, all of Ozu’s films have the same title?


East wind melts the ice, Bush warblers start singing in the mountains, Fish emerge from the ice, Rain moistens the soil, Mist starts to linger, Grass sprouts, trees bud, Hibernating insects surface, First peach blossoms, Caterpillars become butterflies, Sparrows start to nest, First cherry blossoms, Distant thunder, Swallows return, Wild geese fly north, First rainbows, First reeds sprout, Last frost, rice seedlings grow, Peonies bloom, Frogs start singing, Worms surface, Bamboo shoots sprout, Silkworms start feasting on mulberry leaves, Safflowers bloom, Wheat ripens and is harvested, Praying mantises hatch, Rotten grass becomes fireflies, Plums turn yellow, Self-heal withers, Irises bloom, Crow-dipper sprouts, Warm winds blow, First lotus blossoms, Hawks learn to fly, Paulownia trees produce seeds, Earth is damp, air is humid, Great rains sometimes fall, Cool winds blow, Evening cicadas sing, Thick fog descends, Cotton flowers bloom, Heat starts to die down, Rice ripens, Dew glistens white on grass, Wagtails sing, Swallows leave, Thunder ceases, Insects hole up underground, Farmers drain fields, Wild geese return, Chrysanthemums bloom, Crickets chirp around the door, First frost, Light rains sometimes fall, Maple leaves and ivy turn yellow, Camellias bloom, Land starts to freeze, Daffodils bloom, Rainbows hide, North wind blows the leaves from the trees, Tachibana citrus tree leaves start to turn yellow, Cold sets in, winter begins, Bears start hibernating in their dens, Salmons gather and swim upstream, Self-heal sprouts, Deer shed antlers, Wheat sprouts under snow, Parsley flourishes, Springs thaw, Pheasants start to call, Butterburs bud, Ice thickens on streams, or Hens start laying eggs

all you have to do is call… and I’ll beeeee there… you got a friend.

(List from here)


Seasons are different in different places. My cousin lives in Alaska, and “Breakup” when the ice on the rivers breaks up and flows downstream is a distinct season there.
OTOH, there’s this:


Indeed. Seasons are arbitrary. The tropics have dry and rainy seasons. Europe and other places have seasons that begin on different dates. Meteorological winter began December 1, which makes so much more sense.

It really chafes me when I hear people referring to “the official first day of winter” – who’s the official or authority that decided to start on the solstice?


The weather in the UK is so variable (even without climate change) that it’s more convenient to talk of arbitrary seasons starting at such-and-such a date. In a given year, a given area might have first snowfall in November, March of the following year, or no snow at all, for example. And that’s leaving aside the effects of local climates. Hence, official first day of winter, spring, etc.


The solstice is an actual astronomical moment, so who decides? SCIENCE.

Whether the solstices and equinoxes correspond with any sort of meteorological manifestations or cultural interpretations of the weather and nature is, yeah, a highly variable and subjective determination, so have at it. I would like to declare mini-seasons for the week when leaves continuously fall off the trees just after you thought you raked them all up; one that starts on the first day you hear the ice cream truck; and the week when you first have to start wearing a sweater and undershirt. There should also be movable ones, like the first binge-watch days of the year.


…and Hallmark has a card for all 72.


Seriously, what’s with this northern European cultural imperialism? The dominant culture where I grew up (east Arnhem Land, Australia) had six seasons, and the locals of European descent had three (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_Australian_seasons).

After moving as an adult to places where it got < 15 Celsius at any time of year I figured there were really only two seasons: summer, which began on the first day where it was hot enough that you sought shade while waiting at a bus stop; and winter, which started on the first day you sought the sun while waiting at a bus stop.


I heartily endorse this concept, along with a holiday to celebrate the coming of each season.


In 2 hrs I begin the season of slack… (no work for two weeks)


Merry "Bob"smas!


Horticulturalists have 36 seasons in the US. There start and end dates vary with the local micro-climate. The season names are of the form:

  • early, middle or late
  • early, middle or late
  • winter, spring, summer or autumn

So we are now in early, early winter.


I perfer 365 microseasons each broken into 24 segments


My calendar has five seasons of 73 days each (except on leap year). Early Spring, Spring, Summer, Late Summer, and The Holidays (starts before Halloween, ends early January).


No jokes about the Northern States/Canadia?
Two seasons; 9 months of winter and 3 months of bad sledding.


It’s crazy to think that Staring into the Fridge Again is almost over, and soon it will be Wondering Why Computer is So Slow.


The version I heard was that New England has four seasons- almost winter, winter, still winter and road repair.

As for Japan, anyone who is interested in reading about this further should check out Liza Dalby’s East Wind Melts the Ice and Haruo Shirane’s Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons.


In central Canada, the weather was exceedingly warm throughout November and Early December such that the actual low temperature for the day exceeded the average high almost every single day in that period.

I can now safely say that thanks to Global Warming winter in Canada has been split into two seasons: “Classic Winter” and “Holy Shit This Is Scary.”


Pffft! You people in the “reality-based” community are so behind the times and reactionary!