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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on October 04, 2015
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 59] October 05, 2015

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 59]
October 05, 2015
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1. Seasonal Weather:
The wind which blows the field apart: "Nowaki"

:: 1. Seasonal Creature

Seasonal Weather: The wind which blows the field apart: "Nowaki"

Here is a Japanese traditional poem, tanka, sung by Matsuo Basho.
"Hukitobasu Ishi wa asama no Nowaki kana"
Interpretation: How dreary the Asama Mountain's scenery is when the
storm blows off stones.

In Japan, once the Nihyaku toka (One of the days signifying the
change of the seasons, which is on the 210th day from the first day
of spring) passed, it is said that the weather tends to be bad
because of typhoons. The storm around this season used to be called

Nowaki has often been used as the season word for autumn in haiku
since the Edo period (17-19c). "Nowaki Ato" means the dreary scene
after a typhoon has passed. "Nowaki Bare" means dry and bright autumn
weather after a typhoon has passed. Whether during a typhoon or after
a typhoon passed, Nowaki scenes were described in Haiku.

The word "台風(颱風) (Taihu, typhoon in Japanese)" originated from
foreign language and it started to be used in the Meiji period
(19-20c). On the other hand, "Nowaki" started to be used in the Manyo
period (7-8c). The word "Nowaki" is the descriptive word created to
describe a scene in which strong wind blows wild plants apart in the
field. There must have been meadows everywhere in Japan such as in
front of the house and near the towns. Using "Nowaki" to describe the
invisible wind blowing through the meadow, isn't it a very typical
way that Japanese making a word?

A description of Nowaki Ato in the Heian period (8-12c) can be seen
in "The tale of Genji (a long novel published in 1008 by Lady
Murasaki)" and "Makura no Soushi (an essay, the first version of a
manuscript completed in 992 by Sei Shonagon, a female writer)". In
episode 28 "Nowaki" of the tale of Genji , there was a fifteen years
old boy called Yugiri who was a son of Hikaru Genji, the protagonist.
When he visited women to ask how they were after a storm, he caught a
glimpse of Murasaki who was his father's wife, and also Tamakazura
who he believed she was his big sister. (In this age, noble women
usually didn't show their faces to men except their family or husband).
He was growing up from a boy to a man and after seeing beautiful women,
his juvenile feeling by the incidents contrasted with the scene of
"Nowaki-ato"(after the storm). In Makura no Soshi, a storm left some
tree leaves in the individual lattice on a window and it seemed like
that such delicate work was not done by a storm but someone have done
it on purpose. There are other descriptions saying that the woman's
disheveled hair after storm is beautiful or it is quaint that the
woman is watching her garden being tidied up after a storm in the
veranda. We can see that the Japanese found a tasteful atmosphere
even in the rough Nowaki storm scene.

Because ancient Japanese had to face the natural disasters without
new technology like nowadays, they took raging disasters in their
life as a natural happening. To have a peaceful and meaningful life,
reverence towards nature and being sensitive to the change are the
hint, isn't it?

Translation: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Chan Yee Ting

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Development Organization (JTCO)- All Rights Reserved.

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