(from the middle of September to the end of November)
|"Momiji" gari is when we go to the fields and mountains to enjoy the changing colors of autumn leaves. In Japan we have the custom of holding "Momiji gari" in autumn, the same way that we go to see the cherry blossoms in the spring. The word "Momiji" means that trees are changing to their autumn colors and it originates from the old word "Momizu", which means to dye something red. For a long time, "Momiji" has been a familiar word to Japanese people. We have been using the word widely to symbolize red or autumn. For example, we have "Momiji oroshi", which is indispensable with "Nabe
(a hot-pot cooked at the table)". It is a grated Japanese radish with some red pepper in it, and "The daikon oroshi (grated radish)" becomes faintly red, so it is called "Momiji oroshi". Since ancient times, the word "kari" has meant to hunt and gather fruits and view plants.
The ancient Japanese seemed to have been fond of the beauty of a short-lived nature. In "Manyoshu(630-760,the oldest collection of tanka)" we can read some tankas about a custom of enjoying tinted autumn leaves. Around the Heian era
(794-1192), "Momijigari" was widely held among the aristocracy. In the season of beautiful autumn leaves, it is said that the nobles set a boat out on a pond in a garden and enjoyed playing musical instruments on the boat. Since the Edo era(1603-1867) "Momijigari" has also become popular among the common people.
We can only see tinted autumn leaves on deciduous trees. 30 percent of the earths land is covered by forest. However, a coniferous forest in Russia, Alaska, Canada and tropical rain forests (such as jungles) account for the majority of trees on earth. Unfortunately, we cannot see tinted autumn leaves on these kinds of trees. Deciduous trees can mainly be found on the coast of East Asia, the Eastern part of North America, and in parts of Europe. In Japan, the forest covers 70 percent of the country and there are various deciduous trees planted here. Therefore, we can see beautiful autumn leaves all over the country.
Leaves begin to turn red around September in Hokkaido. And then from October to November we can see tinted autumn leaves all over the country. The autumn coloring of leaves moves from the North part of Japan to the Southern part of Japan and in that order. We call this line of movement, "Koyo zensen (autumn tint front)", and it is officially announced through the medium every day. During this season of foliage, we sometimes go hiking in the hills and fields to enjoy the autumn colors, and sometimes enjoy taking a walk in the park. Famous places for the beautiful colored leaves, such as Arashiyama in Kyoto and Irohazaka in Nikko, etc. are crowded with a large number of people.
It is said that the colors of the leaves turn brighter due to the condition of the huge temperature differences between day and night, the moderate humidity, strong ultraviolet rays, many hours of sunlight and the high temperature in the summer time which add to the leaves brightness. Unfortunately, because it was rainy and cool all over the country this summer, the conditions have not complied this year. However, we hope to enjoy "Momijigari" in the hills and fields with their brilliantly-colored autumn leaves this fall.
|grate||tropical rain forest|
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