We have entered the micro-season of “The Spring Water Holds Warmth”. This is the second micro-season of the mini-season Minor Cold. All the micro-seasons within Minor Cold are:
- The Water Dropwort Flourishes (Jan 06 – Jan 10)
- The Springwater Holds Warmth (Jan 11 – Jan 15)
- The Pheasant First Calls (Jan 16 – Jan 20)
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.
To celebrate this season, we will learn about springs, aquifers, and read seasonal haiku by Basho, Issa, and Shiki.
Springs and Aquifers
A “spring” is a place where water that was once underground emerges onto the earth’s surface or into lakes, streams, or other bodies of water.
When the water was stored underground, it was in an aquifer. An aquifer is a layer of rock that contains water held in a series of interconnected spaces. Rainwater is the primary source of the water in aquifers.(1,2)
There are two main categories of aquifers: confined and unconfined. A confined aquifer is where the water is held in between impermeable rock boundaries. An unconfined aquifer is one where the water is not held between solid rock boundaries. Unconfined aquifers are very common and feed most springs and wells.(3)
When the aquifer is full, it pushes the water to the surface. The spot where that water emerges is the spring. Springs can range in the amount of water they release from a slow trickle to millions of gallons daily.(2)
The following diagram by the Suwannee River Water Management District shows the relationship between the aquifers and the spring.
Thermal Springs, or Hot Springs, are springs where the water temperature is higher that the atmospheric temperature. The thermal spring water is heated by coming in contact with molten rock or through convective circulation.(4)
Convective circulation refers to the process where cold water descends and then warm water rises. Convection circulation can happen within aquifers because the deeper you go into the earth, the warmer the rocks are. Therefore, as the cold water sinks, it begins to heat up. Eventually, when the water is hot enough it will rise back up to the surface creating the thermal spring.
Hot springs have been used as a therapeutic intervention for centuries. Marc Cohen, a medical doctor and professor of natural medicine, says that accessing hot springs in winter can have both mental and physical health benefits. The mental health benefits include deep relaxation and better sleep. The physical health benefits, which are a result of the minerals found in the waters, are said to include reduced inflammation, pain relief, skin hydration, and balance of the skin’s microbiome.(6)
In Japan, a naturally occurring hot spring is known as an Onsen. Because of Japan’s unique geographical location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, there are an estimated 25,000 hot springs throughout the country.(7)
By itself, an onsen (hot spring) is not a kigo. However, hot springs can be the subject of haiku. If you add a kigo such as “snow” or “cold”, then you have a winter hot spring haiku.
With this in mind, let’s read some hot spring haiku by Issa, Basho, and Shiki.
children eat snow soaking in the hot spring (translated by David Lanoue)
cool breeze— he yawns in the hot healing bath (translated by David Lanoue)
from Hot Springs Mountain all the way to Blowing Bay - the cool of evening. (translated by Donald Keene)
leaving the hot-springs: tonight my skin will be cool. (translated by David Landis Barnhill)
at Yamanaka no need to pick chrysanthemums - the scent of hot springs. (translated by Donald Keene)
The chrysanthemum is an autumn Kigo
missing the hot springs how often looking back at their mist (translated by Jane Reichhold)
Mist is usually a spring kigo.
It is cold, but we have sake and the hot spring (retireved from World Kigo Database)
A Haiku Invitation
This week’s haiku invitation is to write a haiku or senryu that contrasts hot and cold.
Jane Reichhold lists the “technique of contrast” as one of 23 techniques of haiku. Reichhold explains, “The delight from this technique is the excitement that opposites creates. You have instant built-in interest in the most common haiku ‘moment’. And yet most of the surprises of life are the contrasts, and therefore this technique is a major one for haiku.”(7)
Give it a try! Can you contrast hot and cold in haiku?
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!
- Water Science School; “Spring and the Water Cycle”. USGS.gov
- “Spring Water”. Britannica
- “Aquifer”, Britannica
- “Hot Spring”. Brittanica
- “Hot Spring”. Wikipedia
- Lewin, Evelyn, “‘Like taking a mini holiday’: The health benefits of hot springs”. The Sydney Morning Herald
- “Onsen: A Culture of Bathing” Toki.com
- “Hot Spring-Onsen”. World Kigo Database
- Reichhold, Jane; “Haiku Techniques”. AhaPoetry.com
Issa and Shiki’s haiku were retrieved from the World Kigo Database. Basho’s haiku were retrieved from “Matsuo Bashō’s haiku poems in romanized Japanese with English translations”Editor: Gábor Terebess.