Fall for Japan: Chestnut trees bear their fruit in Misawa

Photos courtesy of Yoshihito Morita
Photos courtesy of Yoshihito Morita

Fall for Japan: Chestnut trees bear their fruit in Misawa

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

Although scorching days continue, Autumnal Equinox Day on Sept. 23 is just around the corner. Autumn is setting in gradually but firmly across Japan, and we are getting into the harvesting season.

In Aomori Prefecture, home to Misawa Air Base, signs of fall are starting to peek through.

Look around and you will find signs of autumn here and there. Breathtaking sunsets and a beautiful silver moon continue light up the evening sky while crickets chirp around us.

This week is Higan (literally, “other shore”) in Japan, a seven-day Buddhist memorial service during Spring and Autumnal Equinox Week (Equinox Day and three days before and after). Higan can be likened to Memorial Day in the United States, in that it is a special time set aside to remember friends and family who have passed away.

In Japan, we have a saying that says, “no heat or cold lasts over Higan.” The Autumnal and Spring Equinoxes are considered the border, and thus the end, of the respective hot and cold seasons. In Japan’s Buddhist tradition, these times also represent passing from one realm to the next.

In addition to cooler temperatures, the fall season is also blessed with a variety of autumnal delights like sanma (Pacific saury), various mushrooms, persimmons, pears and other nuts and fruits.

Yoshihito Morita, a Misawa Commissary employee, just sent us photos of chestnut trees at his home in Tohoku Town near Misawa bearing a lot of fruit. The green chestnuts are starting to ripen to brown hues.

“I think we can enjoy picking chestnuts and get a taste of autumn at home this weekend,” Morita said.

Tohoku North Sports Park, Morita said, is also home to many chestnut trees where visitors can enjoy the seasonal flavor.

Are you ready to enjoy an autumn activity by picking the taste of autumn yourself? Chestnuts are delicious when they are cooked as “kuri Gohan,” steamed rice and chestnuts.

In Misawa and other regions of Aomori, “inekari” rice reaping starts in early October, showcasing autumn gradually deepening into the cold season. So, it is time to enjoy autumn in Japan, as this pleasant season won’t last long!

For more about Japan’s autumn traditions, check out the following Stripes Japan stories:

For Tohoku North Sports Park, check out here.

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