In late November, Kiku noticed that the sekki (see further information, below) for the end of November and the beginning of December was labelled as ‘Minor Snow’. When he asked about this, Boss Panda told him it would be quite rare for snow to fall at this time of year in Tokyo, so it was more an indication that it was beginning to get colder in the area.
“However,” continued the Panda looking at the pages of the almanac, “This ‘ko’ for the five days from 27th November is often true”, he chuckled, “as you well know!”
The ko read 朔風払葉, or “North Wind shakes off the Leaves” (きたかぜこのはをはらう).
Kiku smiled – just the day before, he had been sitting in the little back garden of the Bamboo Bathhouse, when a gust of wind had come from nowhere, and he had found himself covered in a big pile of leaves!
Miko-chan had quickly come to his aid, and helped him out from under them, after which the pair of friends had enjoyed kicking the leaves around, making wonderful sounds.
Boss Panda explained that December was not only one of the driest months in Tokyo, but also one of the sunniest. Kiku was very pleased to hear this, remembering how dark it could get in England at the same time of year. “Remember to wear your scarves though, little ones”, warned the Panda, “As the almanac indicates, the Kanto region does get some good winds during the winter months”.
*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).