“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!

Tsubaki – Japanese Camellia-

The “tsubaki” is the Japanese camellia. It is an ancient flower mentioned in Japan’s oldest collections of poems, “The Anthology of Myriad Leaves,” about 1250 years ago.

One facet of Japanese culture that people might find interesting is “kigo,” which means seasonal words. As the name implies, these are sets of words associated with particular seasons. Kigo are often used in poetry and art to signify when the poem or painting takes place. For example, tsubaki bloom vibrant red even in the bleak, colorless winter, so if a haiku uses the word tsubaki, it is understood that it is winter-themed.

I’d like to show you how to make your own tsubaki with tsumami zaiku. Maybe you could wear it this winter!

You’ll learn a new technique for this accessory. Tsubaki need fewer parts than the previous flowers we’ve made, but the technique is a little more difficult. After some practice, I’m sure you will find your way. Remember that tsumami zaiku isn’t hard; it just takes patience. Don’t give up and enjoy making it!

How to make a Tsubaki:

You will need:

  • three 1.5 (3.8 cm) inch red cloth squares
  • one ¾ (1.9 cm) inch round paper disc (thick paper is better)
  • craft flower stamens for decorations for the center of the flower
  • glue
  • tweezers
  • wet paper towels for cleaning your fingers


1.Make 3 petals with Maru-tsumami. (“How to make Maru-tsumami” link here.)

2. Open up the petals before the glue dries.

3. Glue petals on the paper disc. Put them more towards the inside of the center.

4. Put the bottom edge between the paper disc and underneath the petal before the glue on the paper disc dries.

5. Put the edge of one side of the petal between the paper disc and underneath the petal beside it before the glue on the paper disc dries.

6. Glue the other side of the edge of the petal on the petal beside it while shaping the petal.

7. Bind up the craft flower stamens with wire. One characteristic of Tsubaki is its gorgeous thick stamens, so use plenty for this flower.

8. Glue the stamens to the center of the flower.

9. Let the glue dry.

10. Done!