What is Nijushi-Sekki, the 24 Seasons ?

January 17, 2020 Juju Kurihara Culture, History, Language, Vocabulary 2 Comments

二十四節気 (nijushi-sekki) is an old calendar which Japanese people have been using since Heian period (平安時代 794-1185) and originally created in China for planning agriculture around BC.770-BC.221.

 

In the ancient China, solar calendar was used for a daily life but they realised this system didn’t match the real season. In order to detect subtle changes of the season, ancient Chinese people divided a year into 24 according to the positions of the sun and this was introduced to develop agriculture.

http://chugokugo-script.net/koyomi/nijuushi-sekki.html

 

Nijushi-sekki was registered as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in China by UNESCO in 2016.

 

What are the 24 seasons? Here is the list. The dates are for 2020 and they change every year.

 

4 Seasons

Sekki

Pronunciations

Date

Winter

小寒

Shoukan

06.01.2020

 

大寒

Daikan

20.01.2020

Spring

立春

Risshun

04.02.2020

 

雨水

Usui

19.02.2020

 

啓蟄

Keichitsu

05.03.2020

 

春分

Shunbun

20.03.2020

 

清明

Seimei

04.04.2020

 

穀雨

Kokuu

19.04.2020

Summer

立夏

Rikka

05.05.2020

 

小満

Shouman

20.05.2020

 

芒種

Boushu

05.06.2020

 

夏至

Geshi

21.06.2020

 

小暑

Shousho

07.07.2020

 

大書

Taisho

22.07.2020

Autumn

立秋

Risshuu

07.08.2020

 

処暑

Shosho

23.08.2020

 

白露

Hakuro

07.09.2020

 

秋分

Shuubun

22.09.2020

 

寒露

Kanro

08.10.2020

 

霜降

Soukou

23.10.2020

Winter

立冬

Rittou

07.11.2020

 

小雪

Shousetsu

22.11.2020

 

大雪

Taisetsu

07.12.2020

 

冬至

Touji

21.12.2020

 

Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter are probably more common terms for us to describe the seasons. In Niju-shisekki, they are 立春 (Risshun), the first day of spring, 立夏 (Rikka), the beginning of summer, 立秋 (Risshuu), the beginning of autumn and 立冬 (Rittou), the first day of winter. These four days are called 四立 (Shiryuu) and are the beginning of each season. 

 

You may also be familiar to the vernal equinox (春分/shunbun), the summer solstice (夏至/geshi), the autumnal equinox (秋分/shuubun) and the winter solstice (冬至/touji). This division is called 二至二分 (nishi-nibun) and these were the base of the season. It was called in different name but the system was used in China more than 3.000 years ago.

 

Soon 大寒 (daikan) will start. Please keep yourself warm if you are in the Northern Hemisphere. 

 

 

 

References :

 

Nijushi-sekki:  http://chugokugo-script.net/koyomi/nijuushi-sekki.html

Nijushi-sekki: https://kotobank.jp/word/%E4%BA%8C%E5%8D%81%E5%9B%9B%E7%AF%80%E6%B0%97-109595#E3.83.96.E3.83.AA.E3.82.BF.E3.83.8B.E3.82.AB.E5.9B.BD.E9.9A.9B.E5.A4.A7.E7.99.BE.E7.A7.91.E4.BA.8B.E5.85.B8.20.E5.B0.8F.E9.A0.85.E7.9B.AE.E4.BA.8B.E5.85.B8

2020 Koyomi : https://eco.mtk.nao.ac.jp/koyomi/yoko/2020/rekiyou202.html

 

2 Comments

  1. Beth Parkhurst 2 months Reply

    It’s interesting to learn that this system was developed to aid agriculture. Thank you!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

RECENT POSTS

Newsletter

Iro Megane 色眼鏡

Finally Japan opens its mouth. With its own mouth speaks loud about Japan, Japanese people and culture. Why they do it? And how they feel it? They will tell you all from their own point of view.

Most Recent