24 Sekki / 24節気 

~ 24 Divisions of The Solar Year; 24 Terms Used to Denote The Changing of The Seasons ~

What IS 24 Sekki?

 

A year is divided into four seasons But here in Japan, There is also a calendar to divide a year into 24 sections.

It is called “24 Sekki (24節気).

 

In days long gone, people needed to know when to sew fields, when to harvest and other things related to living with nature and the changing seasons.

 

24 Sekki (the twenty-four divisions of a year) is originally from China.

In old China, people also had troubles with the gap between their calendars and the actual seasons.

People needed to accurately know the seasons’ transitions,

and that’s why the 24 sekki was invented.

 

It came to Japan in the 6th century.

However, some of the Chinese seasons don’t match Japanese seasons,

so zassetsu (雑節 / specific days for seasons other than the twenty-four divisions of a year) was added on Japanese calendars.

 

Here are the dates for 2016 and the meanings of 24 Sekki and the zassetsu.

 

24 Sekki, 2018   

Season 

Months based on 24sekki 

No.  Sekki 

Meaning 

Date 

Spring 

January 

Risshun 
(立春)    
The start of spring  Feb.4th 
Usui 
(雨水)  
The season the snow changes into rain and ice changes into water”  Feb.19th 
February  Keichitsu
(啓蟄)  
The season when wintering insects come out of hibernation  Mar.6th 
Shunbun
(春分)  
The vernal spring equinox  Mar.21st 
March  Seimei
(清明) 
Clear and bright season  Apr.5th 
Kokuu
(穀雨)   
Grain rain season  Apr.20th 
Summer  April  Rikka
(立夏)   
The beginning of Summer  May 5th 
Shoman
(小満)   
The season when the weather becomes fine and everything starts to go well.  May 21st 
May  Boushu
(芒種)   
Time of planting grains  Jun.6th 
10  Geshi
(夏至)   
The summer solstice  Jun.21st 
June  11  Shosho
(小暑)   
The beginning of midsummer  Jul.7th 
12  Taisho
(大暑)   
Mid summer
(lit. big heat, blistering heat) 
Jul.23rd 

Autumn 

July 

13 

Risshu
(立秋)   

The beginning of autumn 


Aug.7th 
 

14 

Shosho
(処暑)   

The season in which heat stops 


Aug.23rd 

 

August 

15 

Hakuro
(白露)   

The season  of glistening dew 


Sep.8th 

 

16 

Shubun
(秋分)  

The autumnal equinox 


Sep.23rd 

 

September 

17 

Kanro
(寒露)   

The season of cold drops of dew 


Oct.8th 

 

18 

Soukou
(霜降) 

The season with the first frost of the autumn 


Oct.23rd 

 

Winter

October

19

Rittou
(立冬)

Thebeginningof Winter

Nov.7th

 

20

Shosetsu
(小雪)

The season the snow starts falling a little

Nov.22nd

 

November

21

Taisetsu
(大雪)  

The season in which it snows not only in the mountains but on the plains, too

Dec.7th

22

Touji
(冬至)

The winter solstice

 

Dec.22nd

 

December

23

Shokan
(小寒)

The beginning of midwinter and the season of cold wind and the snow

2018
Jan.5th

24

Daikan
(大寒)

The coldest season of the year
(lit. big coldness)

Jan.20th

 

 

Zassetsu, 2018 

 

Zassetsu

Meaning

Date

Fuyu-doyo 

冬土用 

18 days period before Risshun
(立春 / The beginningof Spring)
*Doyo is a change of season.

Jan.17th~Feb.3rd

Setsubun 

節分 

The traditional end of winter.

(Bean Throwing Night)

Feb.3rd

 

Haru-Higan 

彼岸 

The vernal equinoctial week
(Buddhist ritual at the vernal equinox)

Mar.18th~ Mar.24th

 

Shanichi
(Spring) 

社日 

Tsuchinoe“ day that falls closest to the vernal equinox

(The day to worship land god)

Mar.17th

Haru-doyo 

春土用 

18 days period before Rikka
(立夏 / The beginning of Summer)
*Doyo is a change of season.

Apr.17th~
May 4th

 

Hachiju-Hachiya

八十八夜 

The 88th day from the day of Risshun
(People used to consider planting rice on this day.)

May 2nd

Nyubai 

入梅 

The start of the rainy season

June.11th

Hangesho 

半夏生

The 11th day from the summer solstice and the end of the rainy season

Jul.2nd

 

Natsu-doyo 

夏土用 

18 days period before Risshu(立秋 / The beginning of autumn)
*Doyo is a change of season.

Jul.20th~ Aug.6th

Nihyaku-Toka 

二百十日 

The 210th day from the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar.
(People have said that typhoons tend to come around this day.)

Sep.1st

Nihhaku-hatsuka 

二百二十日 

The 220th day from the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar.
(People have said that typhoons tend to come around this day, too.)

 Sep.11th

Aki-higan 

秋彼岸 

The Autumn equinoctial week.

(Buddhist ritual at the autumnal equinox)

Sep.20th~ Sep.26th

Shanichi
(Autumn) 

社日 

Tsuchinoe“ day that falls closest to the autumnal equinox

The day to worship land god

Sep.23rd

Aki-doyo 

秋土用 

18 days period before Rittou(立冬 / The beginning of Winter)
*Doyo is a change of season.

Oct.20th~ Nov.6th

 

 

 

 

Category : 24 Divisions of The Solar Year , Japanese Culture , text @en

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