So last week I got to see Autumn in Palau and this week I’m in Japan, visiting the Jesteress’ family and friends, and of course, enjoying Japanorama for myself. Like many Japanese, the Jesteress is fond of saying that one of the reasons Japan is so great is that it has four seasons. At first this seems a bizarre claim – fine, places so close to the equator such as Palau don’t have distinct seasons, but the UK certainly does… but when you’re here in Japan, you appreciate there is a very certain, very definite distinction between the seasons. Even though it’s been quite warm, the people on the trains are often swaddled in woollen jumpers, because it’s autumn. In restaurants we’ve been enthusiastically served mackrel (“an autumn fish”). There are posters advertising particularly scenic autumnal locations at the railway stations.
It’s often said Japanese society is very ritualised and subject to many rules. This extends to the seasons and the observation of the seasons. Whereas in the UK you might say ‘oh, it feels very autumnal today’, or talk about an ‘indian summer’, in Japan, the date says it is autumn, so it is autumn. Although this is rigid, from such rigidty comes a sureness and certainty and a sense of organisation to things.
Speaking of scenic autumn locations, we’re currently in Gunma where the Jesteress’ mother lives, and along with some friends we went to Lake Haruna this afternoon. I joined in with a horde of photographers comitting the fabulous foliage to memory.