10月 October・Northern Hemisphere

4月 April・Southern Hemisphere





秋の暮 Aki no kure 




枯朶に烏のとまりけり秋の暮 (かれえだにとりのとまりけりあきのくれ)芭蕉


Aki = autumn. Kure = dusk.

This mei is used around the middle of autumn when the unmistakable feel of autumn seeps into the days’ end.


On a withered branch / Kare eda ni

A lonesome crow has settled/ Tori no tomari keri

Lo! the autumn dusk / Aki no kure (Basho)



薄紅葉 Usu momiji



色付くや豆腐に落ちて薄紅葉 (いろづくやとうふにおちてうすもみじ)芭蕉


Usu = slight/pale. Momiji = crimson

Japanese maple leaves.

Usumomiji describes the maple leaves as they are just starting to take on their Autumn colours and are still pale reflections of the brilliant colours to come.


Shades of the autumn / Irozuku ya 

Seep through a block of tofu / Tofu ni ochite 

A pale crimson leaf / Usu momiji  (Basho)



寒月 Kangetsu



Heading home on a winter’s night, one’s path is sometimes lit by the cold but brilliant silver light of the moon. This is such a frigid scene, but it also comes with a profound beauty.


Here is a haiku written by Taigi(1738-1791):


Lone I cross this bridge; / Kangetsu ya

Winter moon piercing the night; / Ware hitori yuku

My geta rapping. / Hashi no oto


Here “kangetsu” is translated “winter moon”. A single person crosses the bridge as brilliant light from the winter moon fills the scene. This moon lights up the frost covering the planks. And the sound of this single person’s geta rapping over the planks also resounds through the cold winter night.



紅葉満山錦 Kōyō Manzan no Nishiki



Think of a rolling mountain range covered with trees showing their brilliant autumn colours. In Japan this scene is thought of to the poetic mind as the unfolding of a beautiful red, orange and yellow kimono motif.



木守り Kimamori


木守りとは、晩秋から冬にかけて、柿の木のてっぺんにその実を一つだけ残しておく慣わしです。この木守り柿には、今年豊かに実をつけてくれたことへの感謝と、来年もそうであるようにとの祈りが込められていました。 また、それは小鳥や虫類へのおすそ分けでもありました。 里人がいかに自然の恵みに感謝し、自然を大切にしてきたか、この風習から知ることができます。







Kimamori refers to the custom of leaving a single persimmonfruit at the top of its tree around the transition from autumn to winter. This fruit is imbued with thanks for the year’s harvest and prayers for a rich harvest thefollowing year.

The kimamori fruit is also left as a share for the birds and insects. This tradition shows just how appreciative people in rural areas are of the blessings of nature and just how deeply valued the natural world is for them.


The mei ‘kimamori’ was also given to one of Sen no Rikyu’s favourite chawans made by Chyojiro. On the occasion when Rikyu displayed his Chyojiro chawans before his students for them to choose and keep, the one with the most aesthetic appeal and the hardest for him to part with was a particular red raku chawan (aka raku jawan). As it was the only chawan he could not part with on this occasion, he gave it the mei ‘kimamori’. Adoring the simple and refined, Rikyu left a fine expression of the wabi aesthetic sense with this mei.


The ‘kimamori’ chawan is one of the four aka raku-jawans (red raku chawans) included in ‘Rikyu’s Seven’ (seven chawans made by the raku chyawan artisan Chyojiro that Rikyu’s thought most aesthetically pleasing). This chawan was broken in the Great Kanto Earthquake in the Taishyo era (1912-1926), but its fragments were restored into a chawan that still exists today. The picture above is of a copy of the kimamori chawan.