Hollyhocks and the changing seasons.

The distinct four seasons are one of the interesting aspects of life in Japan, and the people of Snow Country still have the affinity to nature that was so important to their ancestors. They are adept at using nature’s indicators to figure out what is doing on around them. We’ve previously mentioned mantis eggs as a predictor of snow depth and a certain bloom letting foragers know when bamboo shoots are ready to harvest.

We found out another interesting belief a while ago. The hollyhock (tachiaoi in Japanese) is a common flower around Snow Country, growing tall and straight with colorful flowers. The flowers bloom from about halfway up the stem in late spring/early summer and keep blooming in sequence until they reach the top. It is said in Snow Country that when the flower at the top of the plants blooms, it is an indicator that the rainy season is over and summer is here.

Something to watch out for if you want to know how the seasons are progressing. Right now in Snow Country the first green prickly chestnut cases are starting to blow off the trees if the wind picks up (or get knocked off by monkeys coming down from the mountains looking for food) meaning that fall will be here soon. So we have those stunning fall colors to look forward to before too long, as well as wild mushrooms from the mountains! And then back to the snow again…

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