“Risshun,” The First Day of Spring

Japan now uses the 12 month Gregorian calendar like the West, but that doesn’t mean our older, more traditional calendars aren’t still extremely important. We inherited the Chinese lunar calendar long ago, and the date of certain special events are still determined by the monthly phases of the moon.

But because the moon’s phases average only about 29 days, we used another Chinese calendar to keep track of the seasons. In Japan, we call it the “Nijushi sekki.” It’s based on the solar cycles, and under it, the first day of spring is called “Risshun.”

Risshun falls on February 3rd this year. Hearing “Risshun” makes Japanese feel like “spring is coming” even though it’s still very cold outside. Around this time, the “ume,” or the Japanese plum flower, also starts blooming. Like I mentioned in another post, ume flowers herald the arrival of spring. (The post about Japanese plum “Ume” is here.)

So in honor of the coming spring, I’m going to show you how to make a twofold Maru-tsumami (how to make single Maru-tsumami is here) so you can make your own ume blossom!

How to make a twofold Ume

You will need:

  • five 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) red square cloths
  • five 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) white square cloths
  • one 1 inch (2.5 cm) round paper disc (thick paper is better)
  • craft flower stamens to decorate the center of the flower
  • glue
  • tweezers (You don’t need tweezers, but it’s much easier with them)
  • wet paper towels for cleaning your fingers


  1. Making a twofold Maru-tsumami

a) First, make a triangle by folding a white square cloth half.

b) Then, fold it in half again to make a smaller triangle. Put aside.

c) Repeat 1 and 2 with a red square cloth.

d) Between the creases of the red cloth, put the white cloth triangle you made just a little bit outside.

e) Fold them in half again, but both ways this time.

f) Glue at the bottom part. You just need a dab.

g) Wait until the glue dries. (It doesn’t need to be completely dry, just enough to keep its shape.)

h) Shape the top round part to make a petal.

2. Make the other 4 petals with twofold Maru-tsumami method.

3. Put glue on the round paper disc and place the petals you made evenly towards the center.

4. Reshape the flower.

5. Let the glue completely dry.

6. Glue the flower stamens and balance them evenly.

7. Let the glue completely dry.

8. Done!

The Coming-of-Age Day Ceremony

The second Monday in January is Coming-of-Age Day in Japan. Ceremonies are held in each city to celebrate people turning 20 years old. In Japan, people are legally considered adults at age 20, and this holiday celebrates those who become adults during the school year. 

Although the tradition has existed in one form or another since ancient times, it was made a national holiday in 1949. It was originally celebrated on January 15th, but Coming-of-Age Day was eventually changed to the second Monday in January. This gave people an extra day off over the weekend as part of Japan’s “Happy Monday System.”

People wear formal dress for the ceremony, so Coming-of-Age Day is one of the big opportunities for us to wear traditional Japanese clothes in modern culture. Most men choose to wear a western style suit, but many don “Haori-Hakama.” For women, it’s a chance to wear bright “Furi-Sode.”  

“Haori-Hakama” is a type of kimono. “Haori” is a kind of jacket and “Hakama” is a kind of pants. The outfit is normally black, gray, and white, but some men choose to wear extremely colorful “Haori-Hakama” for their ceremony.

“Furi-Sode” is a type of kimono for young women traditionally associated with purity. “Furi” means swing and “Sode” means sleeve. The outfit has very long sleeves that swing when you move. The sleeves are used to display even more of the kimono’s beautiful patterns, which makes this version extra gorgeous and elegant. Accessories are also important to add a woman’s charm, so “Tsumami-Zaiku” hair ornaments are an important part of Coming-of-Age Day in Japan.

The ceremonies are very large events held in public places like gyms and concert halls, so many cities are cancelling them this year because of the Coronavirus. I really enjoyed Coming-of-Age Day in Japan, and I feel very sorry for those who are going to miss out. I hope that we will be able to have the ceremony next year, though.  

Stay safe, everyone!