Yesterday I put up a photo from the weekend, with a small explanation in Japanese.
It was a photo of a small yatsuta valley. I have written about yatsuta valleys a few times before. Yatsuta are small narrow valleys used for rice farming. My area is abundant in them, long winding valleys jam packed with rice paddies.
Walking in the yatsuta on Sunday afternoon was very pleasant.
The sky was blue and the air was warm, it really felt like spring. At first glance everything still looks like winter though. There are no leaves on the trees, and in the shady corners of the valley, the paddies are still well frozen. But stop and have a good look around and you will notice that Spring really has started.
One tell-tale sign is the tiny wildflowers that grow in among fallen leaves. These flowers remain low to the ground to avoid the frost, but this month they are starting to flower. One of the most common early spring wildflowers is speedwell or Ooinunofuguri オオイヌノフグリ in Japanese. Speedwell plants have been growing throughout the winter but are hardly noticeable under all the dead leaves and brown grass. But at this time of year they spring to life, hundreds and hundereds of the bright blue flowers glittering on the ground on warm afternoons.
The birds also know its spring.
On Sunday I heard the first Bushwarbler of the year. Rusty from the long winter, it didn't sound much like a warbler yet, but after a few more weeks practice I'm sure it will be back to its usual charming self. Warblers, or uguisu ウグイス in Japanese are one of the most recognisable bird songs of the Japanese countryside.
Another bird song that is instantly picked is the pheasant, Japan's national bird. They make more of a squawk than a song, but up close Kiji キジ are stunning birds. On Sunday we heard a few giving their alarm calls, and found a medium length tail feather, another sign that spring has started. Pheasants are highly territorial, the males fight for the best spots and the feather was probably ripped off during a fight.
Yes, spring is here alright!
But that doesn't mean you can put away your winter clothes yet.
We still have another month of cold temperatures before us humans can start coming out of our hibernation!
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