In early July, with the rain continuing to fall outside, Kiku looked up the seasonal observation or ‘ko’ for the five days from 2nd July and found it was known as ‘crow dipper flourishes’.
Kiku wondered why on earth crows would be using dippers (ladles), and began to imagine the Tokyo Crows preparing for a tea ceremony. Miko thought it might be that crows were visiting temples a lot in July, and using the ladles at the water basins to wash their feet before entering…
When Boss Panda heard their thoughts, he laughed heartily. “Ah, young ones, it has nothing to do with crows at all really. Crow-dipper is a plant called pinellia ternata, which has an interesting shape – it looks a bit like a vessel with a water ladle resting inside it. The name crow-dipper could come from the fact that the ‘dipper’ itself is often a deep black or purple colour and so the same colour as a crow’s plumage. It often grows in rice fields. It is also poisonous in its raw form, but if processed in a particular way it is popular in Chinese medicine.”
“The 2nd July is also an important date in its own right in the seasonal calendar,” continued Boss Panda. “Known as ‘Hangeshou’, or the last seed-sowing day, which is calculated as 11 days from the solstice. In many areas farmers take five days of from work – a pause before the next phase in the cycle begins.”
Further information
*Sekkis, Kos and The Fox Alamanac
Kiku has been working on translating an old Japanese seasonal almanac given to him by Boss Panda. Originally from China, the recordings within it were changed long ago to more accurately reflect the seasonal transitions in central Honshu, the main island of Japan, where Tokyo is located. Closely linked to agriculture, the system divides the solar year into 24 segments called ‘sekki’ and each of these has a concise title that gives a general indication of the season. Each sekki is divided further into three five-day segments called ‘ko’ (climates). Each ko has an observation noted for the five days – a change in insect or plant behaviour for example, and Kiku is working his way through them, hoping that by following the little seasonal changes as remarked on in the almanac, he will come to have a better understanding of Japan, a country where seasonal foods and customs are still very familiar to many. He calls his own version the ‘fox almanac’ or in Japanese the ‘Kitsune no shichijuniko’ (Fox’s 72 climates).


  • Jennifer says:

    Charming story, as always, and I’m crazy about these illustrations!! I would so love a picture book or series with your illustrations.

    • nakamura says:

      Thank you Jennifer, I am glad you enjoy them! I will definitely be compiling them at some point, and there may be a calendar of them in the end..