Fall means Kaki (persimmons) turning green, then orange, then vermilion. Kaki are everywhere--in gardens, along the road, in the supermarket (with seeds and without). They are cut up and peeled and eaten as is. In Indiana, we were the only people I knew who ate persimmons, and that was only because Mrs. Brown had a tree in her yard. My mom made the best persimmon pudding...
Koshi (right) with his school hat filled with persimmons from the nice man next door who has a tree. If he leaves some on his tree this year, we'll have flocks of migrating birds.
Susukisaka umi hetomukai arukunari
Of Japanese pampas grass
I walk to the sea
Miscanthus Sinensis--Japanese pampas(or plume) grass, the quintessential symbol of fall.
Long before the Japanese maples turn red (the header photo was taken in November), the red Higanbana (Equinox Flower) set fields and roadsides aglow.
But dearest to my heart are the red dragonflies. I nearly always stop to watch one until lost to view. The first time I ever saw one was in somebody's rice paddy. He was brilliantly scarlet against the green of the rice stalks, although that picture exists only in my mind since I didn't have a camera at the time. We watch for him every fall-- "Aka Tombo!"-- the children shout whenever they are sharp-eyed enough to spot him. I saw him the other day on the way home from Kumon in the late afternoon sun. I managed not to fall off my bike.
And, this being Japan, there is a song about him called, naturally, Aka Tombo. Here is a beautiful version sung by Kobato Kurumi:
Dragonflies as red as sunset Back when I was young In twilight skies, there on her back I'd ride When the day was done Mountain fields in late November Long ago it seems Mulberry trees and treasures we would gather Was it only just a dream? Just fifteen she went away one day Married then so young Like a sister lost, I loved and missed her Letters never seemed to come Dragonflies as red as sunset Back when I was young Now in my eyes, when I see dragonflies Tears are always sure to come
(A beautiful translation by Dr. Dennis Paulson,University of Puget Sound)
That song puts gentle fingers around the heartstrings and squeezes until the tears come out. I'm not even Japanese, and it makes me feel nostalgic. Happy dragonfly hunting!
Mata asobou, ne!