satsuki by mayumi


by mayumi in Japanese Calendar

In modern Japanese the months of the year are simply numbered from one to twelve, but they also have old names which were used long time ago. They are based on the lunar calendar. Today, these names are not used when you say the dates but they are often written on calendars, in poems, ect.

The month of May is called Satsuki (皐月). 

皐 --- stream, swamp, marsh, flat land near water, also rice plants offered to God
月 --- month, moon

In lunar calendar Satsuki (May) was from the end of May to the beginning of July in modern calendar, and that’s the time when Japanese people transplanting young seedlings in irrigated rice fields. The word "sa" means "cultivation" in old Japanese. It is said that the character 皐 is used because it has a meaning of "rice plants offered to God".

May 5th is Tango no Sekku (端午の節句). It's a Boy's Festival when people pray for the happiness, healthy growth, and future success of the boys. Families with sons celebrate this day by handing up carp streamers (Koinobori 鯉幟) and displaying samurai dolls, or a set of armor-and-kabuto (helmet), etc. They symbolize strength, power, and success in life. In 1948, Tango no Sekku was designated as a National holiday, Kodomo no hi (Children’s Day).

I chose Koinobori (carp streamers 鯉幟) for my drawing of May.

鯉 --- carp
幟 --- banner

“According to ancient Chinese beliefs, carps swim upstream and struggle their way against swift cascades and waterfalls to reach the topmost source of the river. Upon doing so, they then attain the power to transform into dragons. Such a belief was then brought into Japan and assimilated into Japanese culture. Since the carp displays utmost courage and determination in overcoming obstacles in swimming upstream towards its destination, the Japanese view it as a symbol of success, advocating that such qualities of masculinity displayed by the carp should be emulated by young boys in order to succeed in life. Carp streamers blown by the wind make them appear as if they are real carps endeavoring to swim upstream with all their might.”
(quoted from JAMES’ INFO MATRIX)

There are so many things to mention and explain about Tango no Sekku, and it was too much for me to try writing everything in English... but I found an amazing site that has all the things I wanted to say!!!

JAMES’ INFO MATRIX: Tango no Sekku - Boy’s Day

5X7 Bristol Smooth
2B 0.5mm mechanical pencil

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