Its about time we got back into the groove of featuring some common, yet mildly interesting Japanese vocabulary experienced on a daily basis. Today's word is related to the weather, more specifically the seasons. Were you aware that Japan has five distinct seasons? That fifth season is called "梅雨/つゆ/tsuyu・rainy season", typically lasting from early June to Mid-July . But what do these kanji really mean? Lets break it down.
*The pronunciation of these kanji changes depending on context.
Unlike some of the words I've introduced on the blog previously, the true definition of the individual kanji is vaguely helpful in understanding the true definition of the word. Naturally, this requires us to take a closer look at the history and etymology of the word. For those unaware, Japanese originally derived from Chinese centuries ago. Because of this, the two languages share similar writings and pronunciations of certain characters still used today; hence the asterisk above.
What we commonly recognize as 梅雨 now, used to be written as 黴雨/ばいう/baiu when early Japanese still maintained closer ties to the Chinese language. The first kanji(黴), means mold. In China(Japan as well), mold easily sprouts during the rainy period and was therefore aptly named. However, due to the negative connotations that "mold" has, the Japanese selected a more palatable kanji(梅) with the same reading(bai) that would also be seasonally appropriate -- please note the Japanese Almanac of Seasonal Words. Whatsmore, plum trees blossom in early spring and eventually bare fruit toward the summer. Eventually as the language developed, alternative readings for various characters would proliferate until the colloquial pronunciation persisted into the modern era. Cool right? Well, I guess that depends on who you ask.
What do you think? How many seasons does your country have? Do you have a favorite season? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,