June 5th, Tuesday:
- Pot-au-Feu (Bacon, Potato, Cabbage, Green Bean, Carrot)
- Spaghetti Napolitan (Spaghetti, Pork, Sausage, Onion, Green Pepper)
- White Fish Fry with Tartar Sauce
- Pumpkin Bread
Today starts boushu (lit. grain-in-ear), which is one of the 24 seasonal divisions when arista grains such as wheat and rice are planted. During this time, the farmers are very busy with planting seeds and other tasks.
At the school I went to today, there was no school lunch, so everybody brought their own bento. I forgot until the last minute, so I ended up with the only food in my house: umeboshi rice, carrots, and banana chips. Not true– I also had some takuan, but it wasn’t cut up yet, so I didn’t bring it today. One student related how nice it would be to bring bento everyday. Another student, who had to actually make her own bento today, disagreed. Think of the poor mothers who would have to make the bento everyday! In the teacher’s room, I overheard another comment: A bento made yourself never tastes that good. So people have many different opinions on the matter.
The 24 seasonal divisions are solar based periods matching the agricultural cycle. China, and thus Japan, previously used a largely lunar-based calendar, which lacked accuracy as far as agriculture went. So these seasonal divisions were created to better guide the farmers in their work. Setsubun, the well known holiday often translated as “The Coming of Spring”, is technically the day before four of these seasonal divisions: Shunbun (Spring’s start), Geshi (Summer’s start), Shuubunn (Autumn’s start), or Touji (Winter’s start).