As the saying goes, “Plan your year in spring”. It is not only the season when students start their new school year and office workers begin new jobs in Japan, but also a very important time for farmers to prepare for the coming farming season. During this season, “88th Night” is a traditional festival symbolising the beginning of all agricultural activities.
Since ancient times, the Japanese had converted the 24 Chinese solar terms into local festivals known as “Supplementary Solar Terms” (zassetsu). One of them is “88th Night”, which marks the 88th day after the first day of spring, or Spring Commencement; it is usually a few days before or after 2 May each year. From this day forward, the weather fluctuates less between hot and cold, and the temperature becomes stable and warm enough to allow farmers to start planting and doing farm work before summer arrives. The Japanese also sees the kanji character structure for rice (米) as combining those of eight (八, inverted on the top part), ten (十) and eight (八). Hence, we see a profound connection between “88 Nights” and agriculture.
Cultivate your health with tea starting today!
In addition to rice and silkworm farmers, tea farmers also get busier from “88th Night” onwards. Traditionally, the best time of the year to pick tea begins on this day: as the young shoots contain the nutrients collected from autumn to winter, new tea handpicked during these two or three weeks is the freshest, tenderest and has a more refreshing sweetness. Moreover, it has a high nutritional value, making it a premium product. While farmers are busy picking tea, many Japanese people also enjoy tea on “88th Night”, hoping it will help to maintain health and longevity. Indeed, the catechin-rich Japanese tea is said to help promote metabolism, boost immunity and protect the cardiovascular system. For busy urbanites, consuming Japanese tea is an easy and convenient way to stay healthy.