Winter drizzle (shigure)

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Winter drizzle, sleet (shigure)

***** Location: Japan, other areas
***** Season: Early Winter
***** Category: Heaven


There are many Japanese kigo related to this kind of early cold rain in the overlapping time from autumn to winter. According to the weather patterns of this season, when cold air masses come down from Siberia, the rains come and go fast, as is represented in the Chinese characters, meaning "rain for a (short) time".
It might hit you unexpectedly on a mountain pass and leave a thin white cover on the peaks. Most common in Northern Japan, these showers come fast and leave fast, so it may rain here and shine there (kata shigure 片時雨).

The short cold drizzle evokes many melancholic feelings for the Japanese haiku poet. It is a symbol of the passing of events in the human life, of the passing of life itself.
It is also something that can be enjoyed hearing, it makes a hushing sound and this kind of sound is reflected in other kigo, for examle the famous cicada shrilling (semi shigure 蝉時雨). I often go to our local shrine and listen to the shigure on the roof, quite an eeerie sound!

These drizzle kigo have mostly been used already since the Heian period and are well loved and full of allusions to famous poems. SHIGURE is a good example to show that kigo are much more than just the weather report.

- shigure 時雨 winter drizzle, sleet -
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

... ... ...

rain mixed with snow, cold rain, snowy drizzle, sleet (shigure 時雨) 

winter drizzle in the morning, asa shigure 朝時雨
winter drizzle in the evening, yuushigure 夕時雨
nightly drizzle, sayo shigure 小夜時雨, さよしぐれ

"village shower", passing winter shower, mura shigure 村時雨
The sound of sleet sounding on the thatched roofs of a village in the Edo period.

first winter shower of the season, hatsushigure 初時雨 はつしぐれ
..... first cold rain after the 8th of November

"shower month" 10th month of the old lunar calendar,
shigurezuki 時雨月, しぐれづき

scattered winter showers, kata shigure 片時雨
winter drizzle from the North, kita shigure 北時雨
winter drizzle from the side, yoko shigure 横時雨

winter drizzle in the Kitayama (North Mountain) district of Kyoto
..... Kitayama shigure 北山時雨
"rain in the mountains", yamameguri 山めぐり

soaking cold rain, eki-u 液雨, えきう
..... an old Chinese term for the cold rains, starting from 10 days after the beginning of winter (立冬) as
beginning of the winter drizzle season, nyuueki 入液

autum leaves coloring in a winter drizzle, shigure iro 時雨の色 しぐれのいろ

"sound of the drizzle in a river", kawa oto no shigure 川音の時雨
..... the river sounds like a winter drizzle
"sound of a drizzle in the pines", matsukaze no shigure 松風の時雨
..... the wind in the pines sounds like a winter drizzle
"sound of a drizzle on the autumn leaves",
ko no ha no shigure 木の葉の時雨
..... the rustling of leaves sounds like a winter drizzle
.. all expressions known since the Heian period.

clouds of a winter drizzle, shiguregumo 時雨雲

umbrella for a winter drizzle, shiguregasa 時雨傘

"It feels like a drizzle", shigure gokochi 時雨心地 しぐれごこち

drizzling, sleet is falling, shigururu しぐるる

"tears like a winter drizzle", namida no shigure 涙の時雨
"a sleeve wet from cold tears" tamoto no shigure 袖の時雨
..... expressions used since the Heian period

a famous folk-song called "Sansa Shigure" さんさ時雨


In 福島市 Fukushima city 飯坂町 Iizaka
While walking and working in the mountain forest, it is not allowed to sing or recite サンサしぐれ / さんさ時雨 the Sansa Shigure, a folk song from Miyagi, dating back to 1589 and the warlord 伊達政宗 Date Masamune.
. Yamanikami 山の神 and Legends from Fukushima .


sleet in spring, haru shigure 春時雨
... haru no shigure 春の時雨(はるのしぐれ)
kigo for spring

. . . . .

sleet in autumn, aki shigure 秋時雨

kirishigure 霧時雨(きりしぐれ)"fog and sleet"

kigo for autumn

. . . . .

sleet and snow, yuki shigure 雪時雨
kigo for late winter


kigo for all winter

mizore 霙 (みぞれ) sleet
yukimajiri 雪雑り(ゆきまじり)
yukimaze 雪交ぜ(ゆきまぜ)

keshikaranu tsuki yo to narishi mizore kana

look out!
moonlight slicked
with sleet

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku was written at the end of the 10th month (November) in 1803, while Issa was staying at the house of a student in the area just east of Edo.
The meaning of keshikaranu in the first line is a bit complex. Keshikaranu literally means "not just unusual," that is, extreme, very bad, awful, terrible, suspicious, weird, very strange, or just "very X,Y,Z."
In Issa's time it could sometimes be used in a positive as well as a negative sense, depending on the context, but in contemporary Japanese the meaning is usually strongly negative. In terms of weather, the 1603 Japanese-Portuguese dictionary, which is based on the actual speech at the time, says "extreme weather" (keshikaranu tenki) was a standard phrase that meant "extremely bad weather." (In English the meaning of the phrase isn't much different.)
In Edo, where Issa was living, keshikaranu meant the equivalent of modern Japanese hidoi (severe, intense, hard, frightful, outrageous, terrible, dreadful) or taihen da (terrible, awful, very serious, countless, enormous, disastrous; often used as an exclamation). I take Issa to be exclaiming at the sudden sleet storm that takes place while the moon is still out, as if he were talking to a companion or to himself as he takes cover. The next hokku in his diary evokes someone sweeping away sleet from the ground near a house, so a fair amount of sleet must have fallen.

Chris Drake

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 Issa in Edo .


Read more about "Shigure" in the University of Virginia Saijiki  

Click HERE to see more items of Japanese Culture with
the name of SHIGURE

Sweets, rice wine, special regional dishes and many more

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Shigure-Den 時雨殿 in Kyoto

The two-story Shigure-den (Autumn Shower Palace) in Arashiyama is a museum where people can experience and learn about the Hyakunin Isshu. This building is two storeys high. In the main room, there are many 45-inch, liquid-crystal monitors that display 70 large karuta cards and images of the city of Kyoto on the floor. You can take part in several activities here.
© Kyoto University of Foreign Studies.

Card Games (karuta) Japanese Poetry and Haiku


Shigure no Matsu 時雨の松 sweet
In Memory of Matsuo Basho


. Teri-furi ningyoo 照り降り人形 "weather forecasting dolls" .
ji-u ningyoo 晴雨人形 shine and rain dolls


the sound of iced rain
in the bamboo grove

© Photo and Haiku
Gabi Greve, 2005  


oto wa shigure ka

the sound, oh,
it's sleet !

Santoka (Santooka 山頭火) 
Read a discussion of the Translating Haiku Forum


. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

hatsushigure saru mo komino o hoshigenari

first snow shower -
even the monkeys would want
a straw raincoat

MORE in - Sarumino 猿蓑 Monkey's Raincoat -
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


霧時雨 富士を見ぬ日ぞおもしろき
kiri-shigure Fuji o minu hi zo omoshiroki

misty rain.
the day when I don't see Mt. Fuji:
most fascinating!

(Tr. Susumu Takiguchi)

in the misty rain
Mount Fuji is veiled all day --
how intriguing!

(Tr. Makoto Ueda)

Misty rain;
Today is a happy day,
Although Mt. Fuji is unseen.

(Tr. thegreenleaf.co.uk )


kyoo bakari hito mo toshiyore hatsu shigure

today is a day
when people just (huddle and) grow old -
first winter drizzle

Tr. Gabi Greve


kyoo bakari . . . today is one of these days

Read the translations of Ueda and Barnhill :
. Getting Old with Haiku .


. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

tabi-tabi ni baka-nen irete shigure kana

again and again
idiotically fastidious
cold rain showers

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from the 9th month (October) of 1821, when Issa was in his hometown.
Shigure are intermittent short, hard, cold rain showers, sometimes short squalls, that come one after the other in systems of fast-moving clouds in late autumn and early winter, though occasionally they occur in spring and summer. In waka they are often referred to as capricious or unreliable. Just when blue sky returns and you think the showers are over, another one begins pelting down, and just when the rain seems to be falling harder, it stops. These continuous intermittent showers are different from steady cold rain or from late afternoon downpours (yuudachi) that soon leave the sky clear. In Issa's time these cold rain showers were regarded as either a winter or an autumn image, depending on the context or the other images in the hokku.

This hokku by Issa happens to be an autumn verse because it's from the 9th month. The cold showers in 1821 seem to be quite vigorous, and to Issa the never-satisfied rain seems to obsessively and fastidiously fall in irregular bursts that again and again defeat human expectations.

Chris Drake


hibi hibi ni shigure no fureba hito oinu

day after day after day
only cold drizzle with snow ー
I am getting older 

Ryokan (Ryookan 良寛) 


More Winter drizzle / shigure / Japanese haiku


... when Bashō composes a haiku that is the same as one by Sōgi but for one word

yo ni furu mo/ sara ni Sōgi no/ yadori kana
世にふるも さらに宗祇の やどり哉

yo ni furu mo/ sara ni shigure no/ yadori kana
よにふるも さらにそうぎの やどりかな

his poem is considered an original work, for that one word, that one small change, alters the whole. The new poem thereby establishes roots, and strengthens the roots of its predecessor, in the native tradition.
Translators constantly make such changes; this is unavoidable when one is transferring data from one language into another, for there are no perfect inter-lingual synonyms. Is their work not therefore original?
© Michael Haldane

Iio Sogi (1421 - 1502)

Passing through the world
Indeed this is just
A shelter from the shower.

Life in this world
is brief as time spent sheltered
from winter showers

The Green Leaf

Related words

***** cicada shower, cicada chorus, semi shigure
蝉時雨 (せみしぐれ)

kigo for late summer
..... see Cicada (semi)

***** dew shower, tsuyu shigure 露しぐれ,つゆしぐれ
kigo for autumn
..... see Dew, dewdrops (tsuyu)

***** insect shower, insect chorus, mushi shigure 虫時雨 むししぐれ
kigo for autumn
..... see Insects (mushi)

***** Winter-Drizzle Anniversary, Bashō's (Death) Anniversary / Basho's Memorial Day, shigure ki 時雨忌 しぐれき
kigo for early winter
..... see Basho Memorial Day (Basho-Ki)

.. .. .. .. Rain in various KIGO (Japan)

***** Tear, tears (namida) Japan. Träne, Tränen



Gabi Greve said...

I've never heard/seen a bamboo grove,
but I feel like I've been there, now.
Such music! In our Canadian winters,
I have seen the following in my own

after the ice storm
the whole maple tree
a windchime

Dina E. Cox, Canada


Gabi Greve - Enku said...

shigururu ya Enkuubutsu no nata ato ni

this winter drizzle -
the remains of the hatchet
of Enku's Buddha statues 

source : Wada san, NHK haiku  和田孝さん   
November 2012

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho and Mount Fuji

hito one wa shigururu kumo ka Fuji no yuki

over one ridge
do I see winter rain clouds?
snow for Mt. Fuji

Tr. Etsuko Yanagibori.

Gabi Greve - Buson said...

Yosa Buson

hito-watashi okureta hito ni shigure kana

late for the only
ferry boat he gets caught
in the sleet . . .

The cut marker KANA is at the end of line 3.

ferry boats

Gabi Greve said...

aki shigure kosho no nioi no surugadai

sleet in autumn -
the smell of old books
in Surugadai

沢ふみ江 Zawa Fumie

Surugadai 駿河台
Suidobashi Surugadai 水道橋駿河台 / Kanda Surugadai 神田駿河台

Gabi Greve said...

shitateya to miyashi no ura no sayo shigure

night drizzle
at the back of the shrine carpenter (home)
and the tailor (home)

攝津幸彦 Settsu Yukihiko (1947 - 1996)

more about the Shitateya in Edo