May (gogatsu)

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May (gogatsu 五月)

***** Location: Japan, worldwide
***** Season: Early Summer
***** Category: Season


Haiku gogatsu in the Edo period relates to the climate of present-day June,
but some festivals are dated in our present-day May.

. . Names of Japanese months and their meanings . .


gogatsu 五月 "ごがつ" fifth month, may
gogatsu kuru 五月来る(ごがつくる)may comes
seigo gatsu 聖五月(せいごがつ) "Holy Month of May"

in Christianity, it is dedicated to Mary

gogatsu jin 五月尽 (ごがつじん ) last day of the fifth month
Now the fine weather is soon over and the rainy season will start.


May―Travelers' Eyes
By Inahata Teiko

Summer is believed to begin about May the 5th, which is said to be the first day of summer in the traditional Japanese calendar. Young green leaves come out at this time of early summer, and it is the most refreshing and pleasant season in the year. Therefore I think there are many people going on a journey.  The title "Travelers' Eyes" given to this chapter doesn't necessarily suggest that we should go traveling.

 We have many reasons or purposes for traveling. I think the essence of traveling may reside in the following example: travels when we get tired of his daily life, we lose our way or we hope to part from what we used to be. Don't you think so?

 Nature, which we meet and find out during traveling, is fresh to our eyes. Such an encounter with a new nature, which we have not noticed in repeated daily life, gives us pleasure and comfort.

 Namely, turning our eyes to new things that we haven't noticed till now means the new birth of ourselves. Therefore traveling is a chance to find real and new ourselves and to become another new person. It is not too much to say that people go traveling to search for a new encounter.

 But considering of it, nature which we meet at unfamiliar place might be the samenature that we view in our country. In fact, the familiar sights of the mountain, the river, flowers and birds around us are becoming new and fresh in every moment according to the change of season. If we view things with the above-mentioned concept, we are able to experience a new encounter every minute and have opportunity to discover ourselves just around us.

 I recommend that those who don't go traveling should welcome the morning with the feeling of traveling and look around yourselves with the eyes of travelers.

© Inahata Teiko


Japan in May

May 1-5: Giant Kite Battle at Suwa Shrine
This particular festival goes back to 1550. Huge kites are flown by teams and each team tries the cut the cords of the other kites with their own kite.

May 3: Constitution Day
The Constitution of Japan came into force on May 3, 1947 leading to the annual celebration of the event. This constitution was written while the country was still under American occupation and reflects Western thinking in that it holds that sovereignty lies with the people and not the Emperor, and that people have fundamental human rights. It also renounces war.
On this day in Tokyo the Diet building is opened to the general public.

May 2nd or 3rd: Hachiju-hachiya
This is the celebration of the first day of spring. After this date frost almost never appears. The best time of the year to pick leaves that will be made into tea is also in the two to three week period after this celebration.

May 3rd and 4th: Hakata Dontaku Festival
The festival takes place in the city of Fukuoka in northern Kyushu and evolved from a folk art practiced during the Muromachi Period (1333-1568). It was at that time performed by farmers and townspeople as a New Year's greeting for the local landowner and/or leader. People dressed up as gods of good fortune and paraded to music.
Floats and platforms with dolls were added during the Edo Period (1600-1868).

May 5: Children's Day
This holiday was built on the foundation of an older Tango no Sekku observance which was on the fifth day of the fifth month and celebrated the male offspring of a family. Households flew colorful carp streamers, one for each sun. Miniature sets of armor and model warriors were displayed in the homes.

As the holiday it is today it was started in 1948 and now is to celebrate the healthy growth and happiness of children of both sexes.
Families also take baths on this day in water sprinkled with iris leaves and roots since the iris is thought to promote good health and ward off evil. Rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves and filled with sweet bean paste are also eaten on this day.
World Kigo Database: Carp Streamers and Children's Day

Second Sunday in May: Mother's Day
Carnations are given to Mothers on this day. It was first celebrated by Christians in Japan around 1913, grew considerably in the 1930's, was halted during World War II and was revived after the war.
Children will also buy their mothers gifts and help out with chores on this day.
World Kigo Database: Mother's Day

May 15: Aoi Festival
This is a festival held in Kyoto at the Kamigamo Shrine. It is dated back to the 8th century.
Some five hundred people dress up in ancient imperial court dress and have carriages pulled by oxen. There is a parade, a Shinto ritual and a private Imperial service.

May 14-16: Kanda Myojin Festival
This festival is held in Tokyo and is some 1400 years old. Many costumes of the Heian Period are worn during the parade.
Daruma Pilgrims in Japan: Kanda Myoojin and Zenigata

3rd weekend of May: Sanja Festival
This is another Tokyo festival and became popular during the Edo Period (1600-1868). Various portable shrines are paraded about through crowded streets near the Asakusa Shrine. The portable shrines are not light, however, weighing perhaps up to a ton yet many people will vie with each other for the privilege of helping to carry the shrine.

Late May: Mid-term exams
Tests are usually given at this time in Japanese, mathematics, science, social studies and English. All extracurricular activities and clubs are canceled for a week before midterms to allow students time to prepare for the tests.

Each test is important to the students as the results on their tests end up determining what type of high school, college or university they can enter which itself largely determines what kind of job they will be able to get so competition on these exams is quite keen.

Japanese Festivals of all months
January .. .. February .. .. March .. .. April .. .. May .. .. June .. .. July .. .. August .. .. September .. .. October .. .. November .. .. December

Worldwide use


Mai, der Wonnemonat Mai
alles Neu macht der Mai

Leis' in den Maien
der Morgenregen trommelt
ein Marienlied

Beate Conrad, 2009


Southern Hemisphere, Tropics ...
Adjustments for each region must be made.

Calendar reference kigo

Things found on the way


May evening
the last boat lingers
at the pier

May cloud
dandelion fluff
and no wind

Ella Wagemakers, Holland, May 2009

Related words

***** May First, May Day, First of May
メーデー (mee dii)

worker's festival, roodoo sai 労働祭(ろうどうさい)
..... roodoo setsu 労働節(ろうどうせつ)
"May Festival", gogatsu sai 五月祭(ごがつさい)
"May Day Song", meedii ka メーデー歌(めーでーか)
"May Day Flag", meedii ki メーデー旗(めーでーき)

may day...
its lei day
in Hawaii

Shanna Baldwin

WKD : "May Day" in England


Names of the Months
Calendar reference kigo


. . . . SUMMER
the complete SAIJIKI





1 comment:

Gabi Greve said...

hauchdünn verschleiert, wartend,

Horst Ludwig