You know which season it is, right? Think again – at the time of writing, it was not just winter (meteorologically, that is), but the season of 'the earth becoming damp' (土脉潤起), one of Japan’s 72 micro-seasons. These micro-changes in nature have now been compiled into one rather pretty app by the Utsukushii Kurashikata Institute, and has just been translated into English for the non-Japanese speaking world to enjoy as well.
These seasons are based on the lunar/solar calendar imported from China, which was used back in ancient Yamato. Here, 24 sections of 15 degrees make up the full 360 degrees of the sun’s pathway (and corresponding zodiac). With the original calendar months being between 29 and 30 days, with an extra month every number of years, each of these 24 sections represented a mini-season of 15 days. These were then further subdivided into a total of 72 micro-seasons per year, all lasting roughly five days, and “the names of each season beautifully depict the tiny, delicate changes in nature that occur around us, year in year out”, according to the app creator.
The app opens up with the kanji for the specific season and a corresponding photo, and a swipe to the right gives you more information on the season. Further swipes reveal a seasonal poem, information about the poem and the poet, seasonal fish and vegetables and even a seasonal activity. No more reason to get bored, considering you can try a new activity every five days. You can also take a peek at the year ahead by clicking on the ’72 seasons’ button, and to keep everything organised, the app remembers where you left off – no more frantic scrolling and trying to find the same page again. All in all, a great way to track good old nature’s changes through your hi-tech phone.