Japanese Name for May

May皐月

Fresh green has started to appear here and there and the sunlight is becoming brighter. Same for people who started new fiscal year or school year a month ago, May is when they start to feel accustomed to their new routine and become active and enthusiastic. The month of May is called “Satsuki” in Japan.

May is in the middle of a season when buds are seen in the ground after a long, cold winter season. This is the time rice planting begins all over Japan. The Japanese name for May, “Satsuki,” a letter of “Sa” means farming and a Chinese character for the letter “Sa” is “,” which solely indicates “rice plant” for god. The ancient Japanese are said to have named May as “Satsuki” for “a month to plant rice to offer to god” wishing for the rich harvest for the upcoming year.

Just like the other ancient names for months, in ancient times, months are not just to count by Arabic numbers. In fact, months are richly expressed by the concepts of nature and seasons that our ancestors had fostered in their daily lives.