Latest News

Thursday, 18th February 2016
In Weather In Japan,

App launched to guide user through 72 traditional Japanese seasons

There is much to see in Japan throughout the seasons, but while winter, spring, summer and autumn offer different natural attractions, there is more nuance to the changes across the country. This is why the year was actually divided into 72 seasons in traditional culture, helping to show the discreet way that the natural landscape moves forwards.

A new app has been launched using this principle in order to allow visitors to Japan to note these tiny changes and enjoy them to their full capacity. Named simply as 72 Seasons, the free app highlights periods, including Spring Winds Thaw the Ice; The First Peach Blossoms; Damp Earth Humid Heat; and The Maple and the Ivy Turn Yellow.

Unlike conventional weather apps, 72 Seasons is more like a work of art, with photographs, illustrations, haiku poems and factoids all bringing the information to life. It was put together by a creative group called the Utsukushii Kurashikata Institute, which focuses on the culture of Japan throughout its history.

The app updates every five days and is not confined to precise dates and times, but is in tune with nature. The 72 seasons have their origins in the 24-season calendar, which can be traced back to ancient times. This system, used in a number of cultures, plotted the path of the sun as a zodiac creating 360 degrees. These were then split into 24 sections of 15 degrees each, equating to periods of 15 days and all given an individual name.

This calendar was seen as an improvement on the traditional lunar way of measuring, as the position of the sun would gradually shift out of sync with the dates. Instead, this newer system kept in line with seasons and the activities of daily life.

It was refined further by the Japanese, who split each section into three, creating the 72-season calendar. Each of these was then given a beautiful and poetic name to reflect the changes that happen during the period. This makes for a much more organic way of looking at the times of the year.

If, for example, you take the First Spring period as it is outlined on the 72 Seasons app, you are not struck by the gloom of continuing cold weather, but a more upbeat approach. It highlights the fact that the height of the chill has in fact passed and although it may be incremental, temperatures are very slowly starting to improve.

Users are also told that during this season, nightingales start to return from their winter retreats in the mountains and can be heard singing more widely. They are also informed that surf clams are the sushi usually eaten at this time of year and that Iyokan citrus fruits and mustard spinach are in season. A haiku about the lingering cold, known as yokan, finishes off the presentation on First Spring, giving a well-rounded view of the time of year.

72 Seasons is available on iOS and Android.

Related news stories:
New app translates train announcements from Japanese (5th August 2016)
Smartphone app for underground areas around Tokyo Station being tested (4th February 2016)