Our popular “24 Terms of the Solar Year Calendar” was created based on a new theme which we at D-BROS have never used before. Why did we pick the 24 terms of the solar year at this point in time? What did we want to convey using a calendar? We present a dialogue between Akiko Sekimoto, the designer of the calendar, and Mr. Satoru Miyata.


The Relationship Between the 24 Terms of the Solar Year and Us

Miyata: What is risshun?

Sekimoto: It’s the start of winter. It’s after the spring equinox when the days get shorter and shorter.

Miyata: When is the shortest day?

Sekimoto: The winter solstice. This year, it would fall on December 22. We’re just right before the winter solstice – we can still see vestiges of fall, and it’s about to get really cold. That’s the season we’re in. There’s not much rain during this period, and these calm days are called koharu biyori (literally, “small spring fine weather”) or mild late autumn weather.

-Even though it’s winter?

Sekimoto: Yes, that’s right, even though it’s winter.

Miyata: Koharu biyori and seasonal words have all but disappeared from our lexicon.

Sekimoto: Yes, people don’t know about those (anymore).

Miyata: If you think about it and just interpret it literally, koharu biyori (small spring fine weather) implies that it’s a word used to describe February or March, when it’s nearly spring. But in reality, it refers to the season we’re in now.

-That’s right.

Miyata: These things that are associated with nature, and their relationships with food and our health have all be summarized in the 24 terms of the solar year which include terms such as “winter solstice” and “major cold,” which were conceptualized in China during ancient times.

Sekimoto: The terms were originally named after China’s climate, so there are names and periods that don’t match with Japan’s climate. To supplement them, in Japan, we have standard days signifying the changing of the seasons such as “88th day from the beginning from spring” and “11th day after the summer solstice.”

Miyata: The “72 climates of the year” further breaks down the 24 terms of the solar year, and it is a philosophy that organizes the relationships among the seasons, daily life, and people’s bodies. Simply put, it’s about the how the body moves during the changing of the seasons and during the height of each season – how your blood, water and muscles move. It’s a theory about the relationships among important things, about how changes naturally occur in the body to adapt to nature. The easiest way to understand this is winter and summer. The height of winter is when it’s hardest for people to breathe, so sometimes those who are physically weak die. This also happens during the height of summer, but the most number of people die in January.

-Is that true?!

Sekimoto: Even during the course of a day, dawn is when the temperature drops the most, so it’s when the mortality rate is highest, and apparently it’s also during winter when this happens the most.

-Temperature really does have an impact.

Sekimoto: The interesting about the 24 terms of the solar year is that it clearly summarizes what changes occur in the body in order to adapt, and how people should live during a year that is divided into 24 divisions to correspond with the summer solstice (when the sun is at its highest) and the winter solstice (when it is at its lowest), and when the number of daylight hours equate to how warm it is above ground. The 24 terms of the solar year are very functional and useful for people.

Miyata: That’s right.

-The person who came up with these terms is truly amazing.

Miyata: Nowadays, it gets dark at 5:00 pm, and daybreak also happens early. This just means that nature is telling us to sleep well during this time. It’s saying go to bed early. Simply put, it’s saying this is how your body should act during this period. Sleep a lot, and move a lot later on. That’s what it’s about.


Miyata: Now when we come into summer, the days get longer. It’s still bright outside until about 7:30 pm, and the sun rises quickly too. Even at around 4:30 am, it’s already light outside. It’s telling us that our bodies will last throughout the day even if we don’t sleep for long. It’s best when our bodies are warmed up, so during a time when our bodies are constantly warm, conversely, our bodies will work well even if we only sleep for a short time. However, heat can also be harmful depending on the kind of heat, which may result in heatstroke. It’s most dangerous at the height of summer when our bodies’ organs are exhausted and their functions decline. All these relationships also come from the 24 seasons of the solar year.


A Calendar that Allows You to have a Conversation with your Body

Sekimoto: The winner of a Nobel Prize this year was a scientist who discovered the mechanisms of the internal biological clock. According to his studies, humans are naturally equipped with internal biological clocks that can feel the rhythms of a year’s cycle and a day’s cycle. Somehow, this has long been known to us humans, and this is why people have organized seasons into things like the 24 terms of the solar year and the 72 climates of the year. I think it’s very interesting that finally, these things are now being proven scientifically.

Miyata: We should be adding things like these to calendars, and making them more stylish. We should make them very easy to look at while being structured in a way that people can properly understand them. I think we should be including such workings into calendars – we shouldn’t be making them in a way that they’re merely for checking the date and writing schedules in.

-Not functioning merely as calendars?

Miyata: Yes. I think it has to be a calendar that allows you to have a conversation with your body.

-I see, a calendar that can converse with you.


Everything is Connected to Nature

-Has there been a time when you’ve actually felt the 24 terms of the solar year in your daily life?

Sekimoto: I once went to Kanazawa because I was told by a person from Kanazawa that yellowtail is delicious in December. December is the season for cold-weather yellowtail, and it’s said that when it’s sleeting and lightning strikes, yellowtail season begins. When I went, it was exactly “major snow” in the solar year. Whether it’s fishing or food, there’s a sense of timing when you can experience the seasons from such things.

-That’s interesting.


Sekimoto: Also, there’s always a period every year when I receive invitations from various people. That usually happens around the first to second weeks of April, which is the “clear and bright” solar term. It’s a time when there’s still a little chill left in the air, and after the spring equinox the days slowly get longer and the weather gets warmer. I think people become more active, and they naturally want to see other people. I myself go out, want to meet people during this time. I’ve always thought this was strange. But when I found out about the 24 terms of the solar year, I’ve realized that’s why I receive invitations. I’ve learned that when the earth gets warmer, people feel warmer too and become active. I realize that I’m also part of the Earth (laughs).

-It’s probably nature moving you. How about you, Mr. Miyata?

Miyata: The leaves on trees change color, right? Then they dry up and fall. There’s a reason why leaves have color, and there’s a reason why leaves fall. Take the apricot tree. It’s a broad-leaved tree, and it’s cells are very fine. It’s a clever tree. It tells itself that if its leaves don’t fall by winter, its branches will break, and it doesn’t want that to happen. Right around the time when the leaves stop changing color, the winds start blowing thick and fast, so the tree has to make its leaves dry before the winds come to make it easy for the leaves to fall.

-That’s amazing.

Miyata: Yup, it fits exactly with the season. For example, if you go to the mountains now, the winds are really strong – it usually lasts from the end of October to the middle of November.

Sekimoto: It’s kogarashi (cold autumn winds), right? (Note: the characters for “koga” in “kogarashi” literally mean “dried-up tree”)

Miyata: Crazy strong winds blow. The leaves fall instantly, all of them disappearing at once. A mountain that was covered in red leaves just a while ago will be bare the next week. Then, the snow starts to fall. When snow falls, tree branches can break from the weight of the snow. If the leaves are still on the branches, they’ll break even more easily, so the tree has to get rid of its leaves quickly.

-So the tree is trying to protect itself?

Miyata: That’s right, it’s protecting itself. Its actions match with the seasons well – trees slowly evolve into the trees that they are now. That’s why trees have been more sensitive to these 24 terms of the solar year before we did. They’re still alive now because they’ve been adapting.

-Nature is amazing.

Sekimoto: So that’s why it’s called kogarashi.

-That’s true. It’s precisely trees drying up.

Miyata: That’s right, they’re connected that way.

Sekimoto: They are indeed.

Miyata: But people nowadays aren’t sensitive to these things. They say they’re cold, so they go somewhere warm. Even though “cold” is a natural thing, people don’t think of how they should adapt to the cold. They just try to get comfortable and cozy. I wonder if this is what it’s really like to be well-balanced – I don’t think so. Houses these days are completely sealed, and it’s easy to feel comfortable by turning the heater on. But it’s probably important to feel moderately cold.

-That means living with nature, right?


We’re Hoping This Will Make You Would Re-Examine Your Life

Miyata: I think one way of being healthy is to think about how we should match our eating and sleeping habits to the flow of nature.

Sekimoto: Like how we should spend the winter months.

Miyata: Yes, I think that’s it. There are winter sports that we can play so that we could move our bodies to some extent.

Sekimoto: There’s the word kangeiko (mid-winter training), right?

Miyata: Yes, there is. It’s training that’s done when the cold is harshest. People swim in the cold sea, or stand under waterfalls.

-That’s why culture and words such as kangeiko are born and all have meaning.

Miyata: That’s right. All of those are connected to our relationships with the seasons.

-It’s really interesting. I’d like to know more.

Sekimoto: Simply put, you can have a fun year just by knowing the 24 terms of the solar year.

Miyata: That’s right.


Sekimoto: By producing this calendar, I too have learned about the 24 terms of the solar year, and I’m glad I did.

-Through this calendar, it’ll be great if people become interested, find out more, and adopt these concepts in their daily lives.

Sekimoto: I agree. For example, humidity increases during this period, so it’ll be good to ventilate rooms. Based on the calendar, a mother might change her menus for her family’s health. I hope the calendar becomes a reason for people to do these things.

-That’s nice. Things like making food that warm the body up because it’s getting colder.

Sekimoto: Even if people are aware of the solar terms, there’s also the issue of how far they can incorporate them, but I feel that even just knowing about them will be quite useful in managing their health.

Miyata: But it’s good to know even just a bit.

Sekimoto: It does make a difference.

Miyata: Learn them naturally, and when you’re older, teach them to your children. That way, (the knowledge) is handed down, which I think is important.

-That’s right. Thank you.

Feel the passing of nuanced seasons, and have a conversation with your body. Would you like to try spending a year with the 24 Terms of the Solar Year Calendar?


▼You can buy the Calendar here

▼Archived dialogue with Satoru Miyata
Part 1 of A Dialogue with Satoru Miyata: Preparation is Courage
Part 2 of A Dialogue with Satoru Miyata: “Everything Else is Trivial After my Encounter with Trees.”
Part 3 of A Dialogue with Satoru Miyata (First Half), with Two Guests from KIGI (Ryosuke Uehara and Yoshie Watanabe)
Part 3 of A Dialogue with Satoru Miyata (Second Half), with Two Guests from KIGI (Ryosuke Uehara and Yoshie Watanabe)
Part 4 of a Dialogue with Satoru Miyata – Taking a Look Back at KYOTO Design Lab’s Past Year
Part 5 of a Dialogue with Satoru Miyata – What a Product Ought to Be
Part 6 of a Dialogue with Satoru Miyata – The D-BROS GINZA SIX Store as a New Endeavor

▼Back issues about calendar
Interview with the Designer of “Memory”: “I Want this to be Something that Means Something to Someone”
Interview with the Designers of the 2018 D-BROS Typeface Calendar: Aiming for a Design where Nothing Feels Out of Place
Interview with the Designers of the 2018 D-BROS Calendar “I Want To Be…”

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