Micro-Season: “The Rainbow First Appears” (2023)

We have entered the micro-season of “The First Rainbow Appears.” This is the third micro-season of the mini-season of Clear and Bright. All the micro-seasons within Clear and Bright are:

  • The Swallows Arrive (Apr 04 – Apr 08)
  • Geese Fly North (Apr 09 – Apr 13)
  • The First Rainbow Appears (Apr 14 – Apr 19)

The micro-seasons were established in 1685 by Japanese astronomer Shibukawa Shunkai. While they are specific to Japan, they can be useful to people all over the world. No matter where you live, you can use these seasons as a starting point for your own exploration of the natural world.

To celebrate this season, we will learn a little about rainbows and then read seasonal haiku by Reichhold, Basho, Issa, and Buson.

In this season we are noticing a shift in atmospheric conditions that are more preferable for the creation of rainbows.  This season has an opposite micro-season titled “The Rainbow Hides Unseen” (Nov 23 – Nov 27). 

What Makes A Rainbow?

 In order to see a rainbow, a light source needs to be behind the observer and that light needs to strike water droplets at a 42-degree angle.(1) When the sunlight hits a water droplet, some of the light is refracted, or bent, as it enters the droplet. The light is then reflected off the back of the droplet and refracted again as it exits the droplet. The angle of refraction and reflection depends on the wavelength of the light. This refraction and reflection is what creates the different colors we see in a rainbow. The colors in a rainbow are always seen in the same order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.(1,2,3)

Springtime And Rainbows

The way the sun’s light strikes different locations on Earth is affected by the planet’s annual rotation around the sun. During the winter season, the Earth is tilted away from the sun, resulting in a lower angle of the sun in the sky. This, in turn, leads to shorter days and colder temperatures. However, during spring, the Earth begins to tilt towards the sun. As a result, the Sun takes a higher path through the sky, leading to longer days and warmer temperatures.

With the shift in the sun’s position in the sky during spring, the temperature increases, causing an increase in evaporation and atmospheric moisture. As the temperature and atmospheric moisture rise, more clouds and rain occur. This increases the opportunities for the air to contain small water droplets that can reflect and refract sunlight, leading to more rainbows.

Fun Facts About Rainbows

The following fun facts about rainbows were retrieved from Treehugger.com and InterestingFacts.com.

  1. “Rainbow” comes from the Latin arcus pluvius, meaning “rainy arch.” (4)
  2. In Greek and Roman times, it was believed that rainbows were a path created by the goddess of the rainbow, Iris, linking us to the immortals.(4)
  3. Isaac Newton was the first person to describe the formation of the rainbow.(5)
  4. Each and every raindrop can create a rainbow, but for the human eye to see it thousands of raindrops need to combine their rainbows and create a big one for us to see it.(5)
  5. Hawaii in the United States has more rainbows than anywhere else on Earth.(5)
  6. A rainbow is an optical phenomenon. No two people will see the same rainbow.(4)
  7. Double rainbows occur when light bounces inside the water droplet more than once before escaping, the spectrum of the second arch will be reversed.(3,4)
  8. Rainbows can form in the rain, mist, fog, sea spray, and waterfalls.(4)
  9. The world’s longest-observed rainbow was seen over Sheffield, England on March 14, 1994.  it lasted from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.(4,5)

Seasonal Haiku

According to the World Kigo Database, Rainbow or niji is a summer kigo. To place a rainbow in spring you would need to write “sping rainbow” or “first rainbow”. 

When looking at  The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words as selected by Kenkichi Yamamoto, we find that “spring rain” and “spring thunder” are spring kigo that are related to rainbows.  If we look at Jane Reichhold’s  A Dictionary of Haiku, we find that “rain”, “raindrops”, “rainbows, and “showers” are also similar spring kigo. 

With this in mind, let’s read some haiku that are related to rainbows or spring weather.

Jane Reichhold

drifting into sea foam
morning rainbows
in a wet net


misty rain,
a day with Mt. Fuji unseen: 
so enchanting. 
(translated by David Landis Barnhill)
Unloading its freight, 
the camellia blossom bends, 
spilling rainwater
 (translated by Sam Hamill


where that rainbow
starts from
(translated by David G. Lanoue)
green moss--
all the way to my lap
spring's rainbow
(translated by David G. Lanoue)


As vital as a rainbow, 
On the cusp of opening 
Are the peonies
(translated by Thomas McAuley)

A Haiku Invitation

This week’s haiku invitation will be a little different.  This week we are going to experiment with the technique of “Unfolding” in haiku as described in The Way of Haiku.  I believe Mark Blasini is the author of this website and he explains:

The Unfolding Technique is one in which the action or event of the poem is gradually revealed throughout the poem.  For example, consider this poem by Buson:

on a temple bell,
sleeping –
a butterfly!

Though the image is simple (a butterfly sleeping on a bell), the gradual way the poem reveals the scene presents an air of mystery and delight.  The key to this method is to use vague details to describe the scene, details that point to something that is still to be seen.  Then, on the last line, you provide the missing piece of information.” (The Way of Haiku)

I find this technique very appropriate for our conversation about rainbows.  Give it a try and see what you can create! 

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!  


  1. “Rainbow”: Wikipedia
  2. “Rainbow”: National Geographic Society Encyclopedia 
  3. “What Causes a Rainbow?”; SciJinks.gov
  4. Breyer, Mellisa. “17 Wonderfully Curious Facts About Rainbows.” TreeHugger.com
  5. O’Brien, Amanda. “29 Facts About Rainbows You Probably Don’t Know”. InterestingFacts.com
  6. “Rainbow (niji)”; World Kigo Database
  7. Yamamoto, Kenkichi. “The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words”. Translated by Kris Young Kondo and William J. Higginson. Haiku Foundation

Jane Reichhold’s Haiku retrieved from A Dictionary of Haiku. Basho’s haiku was retrieved from Matsuo Bashō’s haiku poems in romanized Japanese with English translations. Buson’s haiku was retrieved from “Haiku of Yosa Buson Organized by Rōmaji, in alphabetical order; translated into English, French, Spanish” Terebess Asia Online (TAO). Issa’s haiku was retrieved from David G. Lanoue’s HaikuGuy.com.  Jane Reichhold’s Haiku retrieved from A Dictionary of Haiku


54 thoughts on “Micro-Season: “The Rainbow First Appears” (2023)

Add yours

    1. Hi LaMon,
      I am glad that you enjoyed this week’s post, and thank you adding your haiku to this week’s discussion! I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    1. Hi Mary Jo, I am glad that you enjoyed this one! I really like your haiku for this week. The book of rainbows was an unexpected turn. So enjoyable!

    2. I used to teach pre-schoolers, then my own, then the grands –
      Yes! the bookshelf of rainbow bindings!!! All those books bringing in a rainbow of fun and even some knowledge 😉

    1. That is wonderful! I find it so joyful when the seasons coincide with what is actually happening around me. That doesn’t happen all the time. Thanks for sharing you experience and I hope you have a good weekend.

  1. Another fascinating post, Mark. I appreciated the The Way of Haiku link, and even bookmarked it for future use.

    through prismed glass door
    ROY G. BIV
    ~Nancy Brady, 2019

    summer festival…
    a popsicle melts
    into a rainbow
    ~Nancy Brady, 2022 (originally published in Stardust Haiku, July 22)

    watering new plants…
    the cat runs through
    the rainbow
    ~Nancy Brady, 2023


    1. Hi Nancy,
      The Way of Haiku is a good resource. I host a small haiku group in town and we were beginning to look at Reichholds 22 haiku techniques, but that felt overwhelming to some in the group. So I was very happy to find this offering. It was a little easier to digest.
      Your “summer festival” haiku is wonderful! I haven’t had that experience in years, but I remember it!

      1. Thanks Mark. We have a summer festival here called Riverfest since my small city is at the juncture of a river and Lake Erie. Of course, it had a hiatus for several years during the worst of the pandemic, but I suspect it will be back in full force this year.

    2. All three of your poems are wonderful, Nan. But I loved the last one because it was such a great example of unfolding (and yay, cat!).

      1. Thanks, Eavonka. I’m not sure that any of them represent unfolding well, but I gave it a go. The first one is a haiku that’s been rejected so many times so I figured it couldn’t hurt to use it today.

      2. What can I say?! I have so many unpublished haiku that get rejected, but it’s nice to get a vote of confidence on some of them. Some haiku are universal, and some can only be understood by the writer and discriminating readers (and I mean discriminating in the most positive way). And a fair few make sense only to the poet since that haiku moment is only understood by the one who experienced it. ~nan

  2. Hawaii
    on the last day
    a rainbow

    This happened this past summer on my first trip to Hawaii. I’d been looking for them everywhere. It felt like a goodbye gift or rather a sweet aloha.

    I am gobsmacked by Issa’s poem about Iris. I spent many frustrated hours trying to write a good poem about her and rainbows when Heterodox Haiku was looking for mythological poems. Issa, once again, teaches me how to do it right.

    1. Hi Eavonka,
      Wonderful haiku with the pontetial for so many different emotions! Well done!
      I have tried to write mythological or sci-fi ku before and get all caught up in my head about them. I find that genre very difficult.
      Thanks for sharing your work! I hope you have a good weekend!

      1. Thank you so much, Mark. I agree that myth and Sci-fi are challenging forms for haiku/senryu. Still, I like the challenge.

    2. Well done, Eavonka, on the ‘ku. I’m jealous never having been to Hawaii.
      I remember reading the Rick Riordan Lightning Thief series and learning about Iris (and her mythology). Always found the mythology modernized to be fun reads. Have a great weekend! ~nan

      1. I only read the first one, and it was a lot of fun. I’m grateful to my English teachers for inspiring a deep love of mythology within me.

        I hope you do get to Hawaii. We did it the total tourist way and had a ball. 🌺

      2. I actually read all of that series as well as some of his other series (Roman gods, Egyptian gods), and despite being well beyond the tween and YA years, I thoroughly enjoyed them (and learning more about those mythologies–more that we were taught in school at least).

        Some day I’ll make it to the fiftieth state, looking forward to all the touristy stuff. 😉

  3. Thank you Mark!
    I always thought it a wonder that no two people view the same rainbow, well the same.

    It is almost summer with temps up to the mid 80’s today!
    The trees leaves have unfurled enough to provide shade!!

    Here’s my take; All of them true; Rainbow Pairs

  4. rainy hike
    muddy footprints
    and orchids

    [led a naturalist hike in the rain yesterday morning, unexpected encounter with first blooms of Showy Orchis, Galearis spectabilis]

  5. As always, so much good stuff here, Mark. My favorite haiku:
    Unloading its freight,
    the camellia blossom bends,
    spilling rainwater

    And now here’s my contribution:
    Stormy sky raindrops
    cloud curtains part
    rainbow onstage

    1. Hi Tracy, That one is my favorite too. Didn’t we have the same favorite last week? Thanks for sharing your own haiku for this week. Have a great week!

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