二十四節気 24 Terms to Denote the Changing of the Seasons

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Twenty-four Seasonal Atmospheres

二十四節気

‘Plants for the Four Seasons’ by Nukina Kaioku (貫名 海屋)

Japan’s seasonal appreciation in clear through art and things like haiku, but did you know that there are 24 specific terms for each “seasonal atmosphere?” We rendered it as “seasonal atmosphere” because there is no term in English equal to 節気 but the ideograms are fairly reminiscent of the idea 節 as “Seasonal” and 気 as “Atmos.”

As separated by season on the left.

春 “Spring”
立春 First Day of Spring (~February 6)
雨水 Rain Water (~February 19)
啓蟄 Awakening of Insects (~March 6)
春分 Vernal Equinox (~March 19)
清明 Clear and Bright (~April 4)
穀雨 Grain Rain (~April 19)


夏 “Summer”
立夏 First Day of Summer (~May 5)
小満 Small Full Grain (~May 20)
芒種 Grain in Ear (~June 5)
夏至 Summer Solstice (~June 21)
小暑 Minor Heat (~July 6)
大暑 Major Heat (~July 22)


秋 “Autumn”
立秋 “First Day of Autumn” (~August 7)
処暑 The Heat Limit (heralds cooler weather) (~ August 23)
白露 White Dew (~ September 7)
秋分 Autumnal Equinox (~ September 22)
寒露 Cold Dew (~ October 8)
霜降 Frost Descent (~ October 23)

Fun note: Today is Oct 23 and it totally snowed today!

霜降 Sou-kou そうこう also sounds like “So cold!” haha, a nice mnemonic!


冬 “Winter”
立冬 “First Day of Winter” (~ November 7)
小雪 Minor Snow (~ November 22)
大雪 Major Snow (~ December 7)
冬至 Winter Solstice (~ December 21)
小寒 Minor Cold (~ January 5)
大寒 Major Cold (~ January 20)

中国,日本の太陰太陽暦で暦日と季節を合わせるために設けた,12個の中気と12個の節気の総称で,二十四気または単に節気ともいう。

Both China and Japan use the Lunisolar Calendar, expressing the middle climates and 12 main climates, it is sometimes abbreviated to “The 24 Atmospheres.”

Learn more about the artist Nukina Kaioku at Wikipedia

Next, Read “To Learn Japanese, You Need a Rocketship.”

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