September 23 – 秋分 Shuubun
Welcome to the series of posts made in collaboration with Kintoki sweets and ITSUMO Life exploring Japanese culture and seasonal observations.
On the evening of September 22, it is the fall equinox here in Vancouver (September 23rd in Japan) as we enter the 16th micro season called 秋分 Shuubun. We can feel the crisp air as the autumn season has just begun in the 24 Sekki calendar.
In traditional agriculturally based cultures with distinct seasons like Japan, the equinoxes were regarded with an almost religious reverence. With spring equinoxes representing the start of the planting season and the autumn equinoxes being associated with harvests. There were many ancient traditional rites and religious observances that were associated with the equinoxes, the sun and ancestors, with the word 日願 Higan or “Sending thoughts to the sun” becoming the root word of the same pronunciation 彼岸 or the “other shore” in Buddhist teachings as it was believed that during the equinoxes is when the Buddhist world of the passed was in the closest proximity to the land of the living.
In Japan, now the equinox is a day of reflection when families gather and pay respect to their loved ones, spend time together and connect over food. On this fall equinox we really start to notice the temperature getting slightly cooler and the days getting shorter. We like to send our thoughts to the sun thanking it for bringing a bountiful autumn harvest like the fall squashes that are starting to show up on the local farmers market stalls.
Featured here is Sen’s “Kuri yōkan” made of local red squash. Set with agar and slightly sweetened with a drizzle of black sugar syrup for a caramel finish to compliment the squash flavours. Our choice of tableware for this dessert is a Unjour plate in rainy grey by Yumiko Iihoshi Porcelain. We love the contrast in this presentation; the orange colour looks vibrant on dark grey, and the matte glaze enhances the glossy texture of food.
With Kuri squash’s bright colouring, the presentation gives off a feeling of a cool yet cozy autumn day. Perfect to serve as a light dessert connecting over a fall family gathering. We hope this fall equinox finds you well. The reflective atmosphere of the chilly weather will bring the loved ones closer together as we head into a season that emphasizes comfort and cosiness.
Until our next exploration,
ITSUMO & Kintoki Sweets