“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!

Mizuhiki Crafts

“Mizuhiki” is a thin cord made from starched Japanese paper. The starch makes them stiffer, but still bendable enough to fold and tie for decorations. Similar to how gifts are wrapped with ribbons in the west, gifts in Japan are decorated with mizuhiki designs. Some are extremely elaborate, and because of their versatility, many beautiful accessories are also created with them.

There are different stories about mizuhiki’s origin. One is that when Japanese diplomats sent to China during the Sui dynasty returned home, they brought back gifts from the Sui sealed with red and white flaxen cord. Red and white cords then began to be used to seal gifts to the Japanese imperial household, but the custom eventually spread to gifts of all kinds.

We send money in envelopes for many celebrations in Japan. These envelopes are sealed and decorated with mizuhiki. Depending on the event, there are several traditions of design. Certain colors, numbers of cords, and the method used to tie the knots are all important. Mizuhiki have also become more artistic over time, and the techniques have been used to create many stunning designs. 

Mizuhiki are a little difficult to find outside of Japan, but still you can use stiff cords to try making them. In the US, I’ve found that waxed beading cords are a bit similar, and use them in my own accessory designs.

Here is a video “2 DIY Japanese Inspired Accessories Tutorial” by “Best For Her” from YouTube.