Hachijuu-Hachiya, the 88th Day 八十八夜
The 88th day of traditional Japanese calendar, which falls right around May 1st or 2nd, is famous as an important date for farmers, and especially tea farmers. For several hundred years, the 88th day has been considered the best day to start the spring tea harvest. Those tender new shoots are prized, and used for the highest grades of sencha.
The number 8 is considered auspicious in Japan, so the 88th day sounds very lucky. Tea picked on this day is said to give the drinker long life.
Here at Obubu, we celebrate hachijuu-hachiya too! We welcomed several members of our tea club for a special tea harvesting and processing event. The weather was beautiful, and everyone had a great time! By the end of the day, we made 4 kilos of tea together.
A neighbor recently told me that there’s a famous children’s song about the 88th day, called Chatsumi, or Tea Picking. It’s a clapping game as well.
Natsu mo chikazuku hachi-ju-hachi-ya,
no ni mo yama ni mo wakaba ga shigeru.
Are ni mieru wa cha-tsumi janai-ka.
Akane-dasuki ni suge no kasa.
Summer is coming, the 88th day,
in the fields and mountains new leaves are growing thickly.
Over there you can see tea picking, right?
Wearing red cords and reed hats.
See the song and the clapping game here:
Thanks for reading! Enjoy the spring, and maybe a cup of shincha – new spring tea!