May 5 – 立夏 Rikka
Welcome to the series of posts made in collaboration with Kintoki sweets and ITSUMO Life exploring Japanese culture and seasonal observations.
Since yesterday May 5th we have just entered the 7th micro season in the 二十四節季 24 Sekki solar calendar; 立夏 Rikka. As the sun gets higher in the sky everyday, we start to get longer days and begin transitioning into more summer-like weather with rikka (立夏) or “Summer Arises”.
In addition to rikka, May 5th is also one of five 節句 Sekku or special ceremonial days where the single odd digit of the month doubles with the corresponding odd number day. The May 5th sekku is called 端午の節句 Tangono Sekku and thought to be an important day to pray for good health (especially for children, which is why in 1948 it was officially recognized as Children’s day, and made a national holiday in Japan). In ancient times May and the warmer weather meant that more insect pests, food spoilage and sickness could occur. Special ceremonies were performed and prayers were made for everyone’s well being where herbs like 菖蒲 Shobu (Sweet flag A. calamus) were decorated around the house.
With Sen @kintokisweets, we celebrated the start of rikka season with her homemade sweet Japanese chimaki. Following the distinctly traditional long shapes wrapped in bamboo leaves, Sen used kudzu starch omitting the sticky rice and blended with red bean paste. The result is a silky, chewy sweet with a refreshing aroma from being steamed in the fresh bamboo leaves.
For the presentation of this seasonal sweets, we styled with a Mizaru bamboo basket to go with a bamboo theme. The pink linen kitchen cloth, also a great tool as a steaming cloth, adds a hint of spring colour on the background. We chose an Unjour plate in clean white made by Yumiko Iihoshi Porcelain to enhance the fresh green of bamboo leaves on the table. A tiny copper dessert knife adds elegance to the whole experience.
We love finding how food, craft, and traditions have evolved over thousands of years to become things we can still celebrate in our current times. By sharing these little seasonal and cultural observations with you, we hope to keep passing on the knowledge and appreciation for another thousand years.
Until our next exploration,
ITSUMO & Kintoki Sweets