It’s June in Japan and I have come upon quite the surprise. As I’m from California, blessed by the California sun ranging from 90° to as high as 105° right around these times, I was surely expecting a good amount of heat in Japan. I have since discovered it will be raining all of next week with only a few rainless, but cloudy days. However, right now, it is warm out, the sun is going down and breeze as met me through my opened balcony door.
Being it’s June, with my return home being only a month and two weeks away (but who’s counting), I’ve noticed I’ve been spending a good amount of time reviewing my time here in Japan. Starting from coming to Japan during September, experiencing Japan’s colorful autumn. Quickly winter came around, a very tough time for me with being away from family, but eating the traditional Japanese hot pot, Onabe, really warmed me up. Then came Spring with a jolt of the amazing cherry blossoms right in front of my balcony, sheets of very pale pink all around. And now, now, it’s Summer, and although I didn’t expect rain, my host mom has made special summer time Japanese meals, all cold, for dinner. It’s been a wild ride in Japan. It wasn’t until I was reminiscing about my time did I start thinking about what I loved most about Japan, what I believed Japan has that makes it completely unique and I cherished.
And it was this, Japan is seasonal. Everything is done by seasons. From what the Japanese buy, eat, nationally celebrate and wear is all determined by seasons.
In Autumn, we ate pumpkin, pears and chestnuts while celebrating momiji and tsumi, taking pictures of the changing leaves and moon viewing.
In Winter, almost every night was Onabe, a hot pot as we went to the temples to bring in the new year while taking pictures of the snow.
In Spring, I can’t tell you how much Sakura mochi we all consumed as Kid’s Day and Hanami came and passed as we sat under the cherry blossoms and threw beans at demons to get the bad luck out of the house.
In Summer, we often eat cold meals, noodles and eating tons of watermelon as we get ready for all the masturis coming up.
Japan is very seasonal and with this sense of following the seasons is the Japanese’s deep regard for nature. They cherish it so, for the food, enjoyment of its constant change from leaf to flower, whether covered in snow or used as cover from the sun. The Japanese’s constant watch and gratitude towards it is unparallel to any other country I’ve been too. It is something I hope I take with me from this journey I’ve been on. I hope to stop and be at awe of the wonderful organic world around me.