First third of the year (joogen)


First third of the year (joogen)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: New Year
***** Category: Observance


There are three seasonal changes within a year, following the old Chinese Taoist lore, which has been introduced to Japan. They follow the Asian lunar calendar.
It is a day of prayer for good fortune in the coming year.


First third of the year, jogen, joogen 上元
Starting on January 15
This is also the day when the "Small New Year" (koshoogatsu 小正月) is celebrated in Japan. It is celebrated in many Chinese comminities in Japan, like in Yokohama and Nagasaki.

Middle third of the year, chugen, chuugen 中元
Starting on July 15
Half of the year has passed safely, people do penance and exchange gifts. Some rituals are performed for the festival of the souls, o-bon お盆.

Last third of the year, kagen 下元
Starting on October 15
This day is no longer celebrated in Japan.


More kigo for the FIRST third celebration, JOOGEN

shongan しょんがん、 genshoosai 元宵祭(げんしょうさい)、 genshoosetsu 元宵節(げんしょうせつ)、genshoo 元宵(げんしょう)、
joogen e 上元会(じょうげんえ)
joogen no hi 上元の日(じょうげんのひ)day of Jogen, January 15genseki 元夕(げんせき )

ceremony of praying for good luck, kifuku sai 祈福祭(きふくさい)
changing the candles, roosoku kae 蝋燭替(ろうそくかえ)

Click HERE for more photos !

. Candles (roosoku) and Haiku  


More kigo for the SECOND third celebration, CHUUGEN

observance kigo for mid-autumn

chuugen 中元 (ちゅうげん) mid-year presents
..... o-chuugen お中元(おちゅうげん)
chuugen zootoo 中元贈答(ちゅうげんぞうとう)
exchanging gifts for chuugen
chuugen uridashi 中元売出(ちゅうげんうりだし)

and in relation to the ancestor festival O-Bon

bonrei 盆礼(ぼんれい)curtesy gift for O-Bon
bon no kairei 盆の廻礼(ぼんのかいれい)
bon mimai 盆見舞(ぼんみまい) curtesy visit at O-Bon
bon no okurimono 盆の贈物(ぼんのおくりもの)
obligatory present for O-Bon


humanity kigo for late summer

Giving presents and making obligatory visits is common in summer.
This co-incides somehow with the Chuugen season, but the lunar calender puts them in a different season for haiku. Usually you bring the "Chuugen" presents during this visit.
It is also customary to send postcards to those you can not visit, almost as the New Year greeting cards, and the post office has a great selection of these cards.

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shochuu mimai 暑中見舞 (しょちゅうみまい)
obligatory visit during the hottest time of the year

doyoo mimai 土用見舞(どようみまい)obligatory visit during the hot doyoo days.
natsu mimai 夏見舞(なつみまい) obligatory visit in summer

kaki teate 夏期手当 (かきてあて)
bonus during the summer season

In the spirit of CHUUGEN most companies give some extra bonus money to their employees.

Kigo for Summer


observance kigo for early winter

gegen 下元 (かげん) last third of the year
gegen no setsu 下元の節(かげんのせつ)

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Presents for all seasons

To give presents and acknowledge one's duty to others is an important factor in traditional Japanese society. Give and take are very closely related and if you get something, you have to give something back (o-kaeshi お返し), for your neighbour, friend, on the workplace or from a family member.
Giving a small gift is a great way to express your gratitude toward the other person.

Twice a year there are "official" times for giving gifts to all that have been helpful to you during the past six months.
In former times you had to carry the present yourself, combined with a short polite visit to the receiver.
Nowadays, this is easier. Many department stores and shopping malls offer seasonal presents and send them for you, including a small greeting card.

oseibo, o-seibo 歳暮 present for the end of the year
Usually given from December 20 till the end of the year. This present does not need a revanche present.
It started off as a gift from the sub-family (bunke 分家) to the main family (honke 本家)to give an offering for the family altar in the main family home and was an opportunity for the families to get together and celebrate.

Obligatory Presents for all seasons


dorayaki mo torayaki mo kite o-chuugen

present for mid-year -
I got some Dorayaki
and also Torayaki

Iijima Haruko 飯島晴子 (1921 - 2000)
Tr. Gabi Greve

This is a play with words of DORA and TORA (Tiger).

torayaki 虎焼き Dorayaki in form of a little tiger

Dorayaki cakes

Related words

seibo 歳暮(せいぼ)、oseibo お歳暮(おせいぼ)
giving Year End money or presents

***** © The Asian Lunar Calendar


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