We have entered the micro-season of “Light Rain Showers”. This is the second micro-season of the mini-season of Frost Descent. The micro-seasons within Frost Descent are:
- The First Frost Falls (Oct 23 – Oct 27)
- Light Rain Showers (Oct 28 – Nov 01)
- The Maple and the Ivy Turn Yellow (Nov 02 – Nov 07)
These seasons were established in 1685 by Japanese astronomer Shibuka Shunkai and are specific to Japan. However, just because the calendar focuses on Japan doesn’t mean it isn’t applicable to others. No matter where you live you can use these seasons as a starting point for your personal exploration of the world around you.
As a way to celebrate this season, we will learn about rain, the different classifications of rainfall, and how the sound of rain can quiet a restless mind. After that, we will read seasonal haiku by Issa, Buson, and Basho.
Rain is the term we use for liquid precipitation. Precipitation is the term used for all forms of water that fall to the earth from the upper atmosphere. Clouds, which are made up of water droplets or ice crystals, release rain when the water droplets get too heavy to stay suspended in the air.
Raindrops are formed around tiny pieces of material in the air called “cloud condensation nuclei (CCN)”.(2) CCN can be dust, salt, smoke, pollution, or algae.(2) Raindrops usually measure about .02 inches or .5 millimeters in diameter by the time they fall toward the earth. Raindrops might actually start falling as snow. However, they can transition back to liquid form as they get closer to the earth and the atmospheric temperatures increases.
Intensity of Rain
Scientists classify rain by the rate at which it falls per hour. Light rain, which is highlighted in this micro-season, is when the precipitation rate is less than .098 in (2.5 mm) per hour. The full range of rainfall rates are:
- Light Rain: precipitation rate is less than .098 in (2.5 mm) per hour
- Moderate rain: precipitation rate is between .098 in (2.5 mm) and .30 in ( 7.6 mm) per hour
- Heavy rain: when the precipitation rate is greater than 0.30 in (7.6 mm) but less than 2.0 ( 50 mm) per hour.
- Violent rain: when the precipitation rate is greater than 2.0 in (50 mm) per hour(1)
The Sound of Rain
The sound of light rain can be very relaxing for some. Emily Mendez, MS, EdS. comments in a recent Healthline.com article, “Rain has a regular, predictable pattern . . . Our brain processes it as a calming, non-threatening noise.”(3) Author Ginger Wojcik further supports this idea by stating:
“I find listening to rain fall is a visceral experience. It feels like each drop massages my whole body. . . I often listen to rainstorms while I work to drown out the chorus of distracting thoughts competing for my attention.”(3)
So it seems that the sound of gentle rain has the potential to calm the mind and allow for focused attention. Perhaps this means that the sound of light rain could be helpful for those who want to write haiku.
In the World Kigo Database, Dr. Gabi Greve tells us that rain by itself is not a kigo or seasonal word. However, Dr. Greve does explain that “since the rain is a constant partner throughout the year, there are many kigo connected with it. A friend suggested there are more than 400 kigo connected to the rain.”(4) Possible rain-related kigo are “spring drizzle” or harusame, “long summer rain” or samidare, and “cold showers” or shigure which is typical for autumn and winter.
With this in mind, let’s read some haiku.
raindrops -- only three but fall's here (translated by Chris Drake)
the mountain pigeon grumbles... winter rain (translated by David G. Lanoue)
It may transform itself, This umbrella lent by a temple, In the winter rain. (Translated by R. H. Blyth)
meditating in the dripping rain a snail (The Path of Flowering Thorn: The Life and Poetry of Yosa Buson by Makoto Ueda)
already autumn even sprinkles of rain in the moon’s shape (translated by Jane Reichhold)
a rainy day the autumn world of a border town (translated by Jane Reichhold)
banana in a windstorm: a night of listening to rain dripping in the tub. (translated by David Landis Barnhill)
A Haiku Invitation
This week’s haiku invitation is to write a haiku or senryu that references autumn rain.
Share your haiku in the comments below, or post on your own page and link back to this post. I can’t wait to read what you write!
- “Rain”; Wikipedia
- “Rain”; National Geographic
- Ginger Wojcik; “How the Sound of Rain Can Calm an Anxious Mind”; Healthline.com
- “Rain in various Kigo”; World Kigo Database
Issa’s haiku were retrieved from World Kigo Database and David G. Lanoue’s HaikuGuy.com. Buson’s haiku were retrieved from “Haiku of Yosa Buson Organized by Rōmaji, in alphabetical order; translated into English, French, Spanish.” Basho’s haiku were retrieved from “Matsuo Bashō’s haiku poems in romanized Japanese with English translations” Editor: Gábor Terebess