Snow (yuki)

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Snow (yuki)

***** Location: Japan, Germany, other areas
***** Season: Late Winter, others see below
***** Category: Heavens / Earth / Humanity


Snow is a special present from the winter sky. A Japanese way to describe the seasonal feeling is "snow .. moon .. flowers (cherry blossoms)" setsugekka 雪月花.
Winter, Autumn and Spring ...
Quote from an essay on Setsugekka

To the Japanese mind, nature is more than just physical scenery.

Snow [setsu] is, of course, a symbol of winter, a white covering that blankets all that is visible in other seasons. At the same time, however, a snowscape, though seemingly devoid of everything, in fact offers a hint of new life, whether it be a single plum blossom coming into bud or a tiny blade of new grass--harbingers of a scene that is soon to unfold.

Snow is a favored backdrop in Japanese drama, especially Noh theater and Kabuki. Employing a snowy landscape heightens the tension of the story through its inherent, vivid contrast: the contrast between a completely white snow cover that buries all life and creates a frigid world of death, and the stalwart portrayal of life in the face of, and even overcoming, death.

Whereas flowers and fall foliage, by their very existence, reveal the life force of nature, snow serves as a symbol of the world of winter, darkness, and death and as a foreshadowing of life to come.

Matsuo Bashô [1644-94], one of the most well-known proponents of the Japanese view of nature, often alluded to the term zôka 造化. Renowned as one of Japan's foremost poets, Bashô declared that the artistically supreme and morally superior way of life was "to keep friends with the four seasons," meaning to live in accord with the workings of nature. He also said that a close rapport with zôka is the continuous thread that binds all of Japan's most famous thinkers and artists down through history--from Saigyô [1118-90] the waka poet, to Sôgi [1421-1 502] of linked-verse fame, to Sesshû [1420-1506] the ink painter, to Sen no Rikyû [1522-91] the great innovator of the tea ceremony.

This Japanese love of the imperfect stems from an acknowledgment of the inherent limitations of human creative powers.

© SETSUGEKKA, by Isamu Kurita, MOA
..... Do not miss to read the full essay .


Let us look at
snow and the many late WINTER kigo

yuki 雪 snow

yukiguni 雪国(ゆきぐに)"country with snow"
Often used for Hokkaido and Northern Japan.

"snow like crystal sugar", zarameyuki ざらめ雪(ざらめゆき)
Coarse crystal sugar (zarame) 粗目

heavy snowfall, ooyuki 大雪
light snowfall, koyuki 小雪
snow falling thinly, thin snow, sasame yuki 細雪
..... shimari yuki, shimariyuki しまり雪
powder snow, kona yuki, konayuki 粉雪

freshly fallen snow, new snow, shin setsu, shinsetsu 新雪
snow at the foot of trees, neyuki 根雪 ねゆき

cotton snow, watayuki 綿雪
..... quite a pleasant treat in winter
"small rice grains snow", snow with small flakes, kogome yuki 小米雪
"snow like rice cakes" mochiyuki 餅雪 もちゆき

snowflakes, seppen 雪片せっぺん
... rather large ones

thick snow, deep snow, miyuki 深雪
..... MI can also mean "beautiful"

wet snow, shissetsu 湿雪(しっせつ)
..... betoyuki べと雪(べとゆき)
mizuyuki 水雪(みずゆき)"snow like water"

"snow like the eaves", seppi 雪庇(せっぴ)
Hanging down in thick layers.
fusumayuki, fusuma yuki 衾雪(ふすまゆき)blanket of snow
tsutsuyuki 筒雪(つつゆき)snow on bamboo and other poles

"wind and snow", snowstorm, fuusetsu 風雪
..... very common in Hokkaido
blizzard, fubuki 吹雪
jifubuki 地吹雪(じふぶき)snow blowing up from the earth
during a snowstorm
yukikemuri, yuki kemuri 雪煙(ゆきけむり)snow like smoke
..... yukinami 雪浪(ゆきなみ)"wave patterns" in blown snow
Blizzard in Okayama, January 2007
yukishimaki 雪しまき (ゆきしまき) whirlwind with snow
..... yukijimaki 雪じまき(ゆきじまき)
..... shimaki しまき (風巻き)
shimakigumo しまき雲(しまきぐも)windstorm clouds
SHI here means WIND.

flying snow hisetsu 飛雪
snow falling from branches, shizuri yuki しずり雪
snow hanging from branches, yukihimo 雪紐 ゆきひも

"wind flowes", snowflakes, kazahana 風花

"snow flowers", snow crystals, yuki no hana 雪の華
..... blossoms of snow, bloom of snow
"six flowers", snow crystals, mutsu no hana 六花、rikka 六華
"silver flowers", ginka 銀花
"heavenly flowers", tenka 天花

snow landscape, yukikeshiki, yukigeshiki 雪景色
..... especially on a morning after snowing all night
bosetsu 暮雪(ぼせつ)snowfall in the evening
. fine weather after snowfall, yukibare 雪晴(ゆきばれ)
..... miyukibare 深雪晴 (みゆきばれ)
"sky after snowfall", setsugo no ten 雪後の天

. yukizukiyo 雪月夜(ゆきづきよ)night with snow and a full moon

. yuki shigure 雪時雨 (ゆきしぐれ) drizzle with snow

snow drift (fukidamari 吹き溜り (ふきだまり)

"crown of snow" snowcaps on things outside,
..... kamuri yuki 冠雪 かむりゆき
..... yuki kamuri 雪冠

"it looks like snow" yuki moyoi 雪催 ゆきもよい
..... yuki moyoo 雪模様
..... yukige 雪気
..... setsu i 雪意 せつい

"cloudes with snow", yukigumori 雪曇り
..... yukigumo 雪雲(ゆきぐも)
sky with snow, yuki no sora 雪の空, yukizora 雪空(ゆきぞら)

yukigure 雪暗(ゆきぐれ)dark with snow
yukiakari, yuki akari 雪明(ゆきあかり)light with snow

yukikaze 雪風(ゆきかぜ) "snow and wind"
yuki no koe 雪の声(ゆきのこえ)"voice of the snow"

(branches) broken by snow, yuki ore 雪折れ

Photo by Gabi Greve, January 2008


CLICK for more photos

. yukionna, yuki onna 雪女 (ゆきおんな) "snow woman" .
yuki no sei 雪の精(ゆきのせい)"soul, spirit of the snow"
yukijoroo 雪女郎(ゆきじょろう)"fairy of the snow"
yukioni 雪鬼(ゆきおに)" snow demon "
yukiboozu 雪坊主(ゆきぼうず)"snow priest"
yukiotoko, yuki otoko 雪男(ゆきおとこ)"snow man"

These apparitions often appear to people who got lost in the snow.


. . . category HUMANITY

supporting trees with strings, yukitsuri 雪吊 (ゆきつり)
CLICK for more photos

protective fence against the snow, yukiyoke 雪除け
Especially in Northern Japan and along the coast of the Japan sea, where wind brings stong snowfall.

shoveling snow from the roof, yuki oroshi 雪下ろし
Especially in Northern Japan and along the coast of the Japan sea, where wind brings stong snowfall. If the snow gets too heavy, the roof structure might break. The roofs sometimes have a special slant to throw the snow down.
CLICK for more photos


shoveling snow, yukikaki 雪掻 (ゆきかき)
yuki o kaku 雪を掻く(ゆきをかく),
brushing snow away, yuki o haku 雪を掃く(ゆきをはく)
worker who showels snow, yukikaki ninpu

snow shoveling, josetsu 除雪(じょせつ)
worker to shovel snow, josetsu fu 除雪夫(じょせつふ)
group to shovel snow, josetsu tai 除雪隊(じょせつたい)

worker to shovel snow, haisetsu fu 排雪夫(はいせつふ)

getting rid of snow, yuki sute 雪捨(ゆきすて)
bringing snow away, yuki gaeshi 雪返し(ゆきがえし)

broom to get rid of snow, yuki booki 雪箒(ゆきぼうき)
snow shovel, yukikaki bera 雪掻箆(ゆきかきべら)
snow plough, yuki suki 雪鋤(ゆきすき)


kigo for late winter

yukizao 雪竿 (ゆきざお) pole to measure the depth of snow
..... yukizao 雪棹(ゆきざお), yukijaku 雪尺(ゆきじゃく), yukipooru スノーポール

sunoo cheen スノーチェーン snow chains (for your car)

yuusetsukoo 融雪溝 (ゆうせつこう) ditch for melted snow
They are especially important in areas with a lot of snow during winter.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

shoosetsu paipu 消雪パイプ (しょうせつぱいぷ) pipes to melt snow
they are usually filled with warm water, sometimes hot spring water is used.
Some come with small opeinings to sprinkle warm water on the icy roads.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

Check the WKD LIST of
. HUMANITY and Winter Kigo


Snow Kigo in SPRING

kigo for all spring:

haru no yuki 春の雪 (はるのゆき) snow in spring
..... shunsetsu 春雪(しゅんせつ)
haru fubuki 春吹雪(はるふぶき) blizzard in spring

"Peony Snow" snow with large soft flakes, botan yuki 牡丹雪
"flower petal snow" katabira yuki かたびら雪

..... tabirayuki たびら雪(たびらゆき)
..... tanbirayuki だんびら雪(だんびらゆき)
"snow like foam", awayuki 泡雪 / 沫雪(あわゆき
watayuki 綿雪(わたゆき) "cotton snow"

CLICK for more photos
hadare 斑雪 (はだれ) spots of snow, patchy snow
..... hadara はだら、hadara yuki はだら雪(はだらゆき)
..... madarayuki まだら雪(まだらゆき)
hadareno 斑雪野(はだれの)wild fields with spots of snow
hadareyama 斑雪山(はだれやま)mountain with spots of snow
hadarene 斑雪嶺(はだれね)mountain peak with spots of snow
hadara izu 斑雪凍つ(はだらいつ) frozen spots of snow
leicht fallender spärlicher Schnee,
nur noch in Flecken verbliebener Restschnee


kigo for mid-spring:

yuki no hate 雪の果 (ゆきのはて) end of snow
..... yuki no owari 雪の終(ゆきのおわり)
..... shuusetsu 終雪(しゅうせつ)

nagori no yuki 名残の雪(なごりのゆき)traces of snow
..... yuki no nagori 雪の名残(ゆきのなごり)
yuki no wakare 雪の別れ(ゆきのわかれ)"good bye, snow"
wasureyuki 忘れ雪(わすれゆき)"forgetting snow"

Nehanyuki 涅槃雪(ねはんゆき)snow at the Nehan Festival
..... yuki Nehan 雪涅槃(ゆきねはん)
. Nirvana Ceremony (Nehan-E 涅槃会 ねはんえ )  
February 15

yuki neburi 雪ねぶり (ゆきねぶり)
mist over snow fields or patches of snow

dialect of Echigo and Shinshu, where a lot of snow is falling in winter.


Snow Kigo, category EARTH

kigo for early spring

katayuki 堅雪 (かたゆき) hard snow
..... yuki aka 雪垢(ゆきあか)dirty snow
yukidoro 雪泥(ゆきどろ) muddy snow

kigo for mid-spring

nadare 雪崩 (なだれ) avalanche, snowslide . Lawine
soko nadare 底雪崩(そこなだれ)
jikosuri 地こすり(じこすり)"scratching the earth"
kaze nadare 風雪崩(かぜなだれ)wind avalanche
yuki nadare 雪なだれ(ゆきなだれ)snow avalanche
yuki kuzure 雪くずれ(ゆきくずれ)snowslide
nadareyuki なだれ雪(なだれゆき)snow in an avalanche

yukidoke 雪解 melting snow
..... yukige 雪解
river with melted water, yukigegawa 雪解川
drops of melted snow, yukige shizuku 雪解雫
snowmelt wind, yukige kaze 雪解風
snowmelt fields, yukigeno 雪解野
shining snowmelt, yukige koo 雪解光
flowing snowmelt water, yuki shiro 雪代, 雪しろ, ゆきしろ
..... yukishiro mizu 雪しろ水
"snow soup", slush, yukijiru 雪汁
muddy snowmelt water, yuki nigori 雪濁り 

zansetsu 残雪 ざんせつ remaining snow
kozo no yuki 去年の雪(こぞのゆき)snow from last year
nokoru yuki 残る雪(のこるゆき)lingering snow
yuki nokoru 雪残る(ゆきのこる)snow remained
kage yuki 陰雪(かげゆき)snow in the shadow
yuki no nagori 雪の名残 (ゆきのなごり) traces of snow


These are also kigo for mid-summer :

Fuji no yukige 富士の雪解 (ふじのゆきげ)
snow melting on Mount Fuji
..... yukige Fuji 雪解富士(ゆきげふじ)
..... Fuji yukige 富士雪解(ふじゆきげ)

sekkei 雪渓 (せっけい) snow-covered valley
..... kurepasu クレパス, kurebasu クレバス crevasse


These are also kigo for late autumn :

shuusetsu 秋雪 (しゅうせつ) snow in autumn
..... aki no yuki 晩秋 秋の雪(あきのゆき)
..... aki no hatsuyuki 秋の初雪(あきのはつゆき) first snow in autumn

yuki jitaku 雪支度(ゆきじたく) preparing for snow

Fuji no hatsuyuki 富士の初雪 (ふじのはつゆき)
first snow on Mount Fuji
kigo for mid-autumn


Snow starts falling at different times in different places in Japan and Hatsuyuki, first snow is a kigo in itself.

Look at the different shades of snow white in this painting by David Armstrong.


snow as a topic for haiku

mannenyuki まんねんゆき / 万年雪 "eternal snow", snow-capped mountains
They can be seen in any season, especially in summer.

"The Snows of Kilimanjaro"
is a short story by Ernest Hemingway.


Coral Road
Photo by Michael Baribeau

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Beautiful haiga by Laryalee
Laryalee Haiga


Scientific explanation about Rain and Snow

snow pellets
(Also called soft hail, graupel, tapioca snow.) Precipitation consisting of white, opaque, approximately round (sometimes conical) ice particles having a snowlike structure, and about 2–5 mm in diameter.


Look at the Snow Ferns by David Armstrong

And more of his wonderful paintings.


Snow 雪 in Japanese culture
source : www.youtube.com


磨なをす鏡も清し 雪の花
togi-naosu kagami mo kiyoshi yuki no hana

Polished anew
the holy mirror too is clear–
blossoms of snow

Tr. Shirane

Basho at shrine Atsuta Jingu 熱田神宮:
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 .

jiji ga yo ya kare-gi mo yuki no hana no haru

an old man's world--
flowers of snow on bare trees
spring's blossoms

Tr. David Lanoue


sata nashi ni ooyuki toreshi o-yama kana

deep snow
on the mountain
suddenly gone

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from the 1st month (Feb.) of 1814, when Issa was back in his hometown. The mountains around his hometown get a lot of snow, but this year very heavy snow must have been followed by a sudden warm spell. Issa's diary shows many fair days and some days with rain in the 1st month. I take this mountain to be a smaller mountain near his village rather than the high peaks a few miles away that sometimes have patches of snow even in summer.
One day people look up and, incredibly, the deep snow on the mountain seems to have simply disappeared. It happened so quickly and without any signs of impending change that Issa seems filled with a feeling of sudden loss, as if a friend had left without saying goodbye.

Chris Drake


Geert Verbeke, December 2005


ooyuki o shakushi de tokasu kodomo kana

melting the big snow
with a spoon...
a child

to the rhythm
of the blizzard
washing rice

higashi nishi minami kita yori fubuki kana

from east, west
south, north...
the blizzard

There are more than 200 haiku with "snow" in the Issa archives of David Lanoue.
ISSA and the Seasons


Schnee über Nacht;
wo ihr Wagen parkte
noch grünes Gras

snow over night;
where she parked her car
still green grass
(Tr. Gabi)

Dietmar Tauchner
english version in KO, spring-summer 04


snow pellets*
pelt the roof top:
echos from bare trees

though longsleaves : a bird song
in stutter-chatter

*snow pellets -- upper wind tumbled snow flakes turned into pellets
*windchill -- wind with low temperatures make the "feel" colder



writer's block--
the staccato tick
of tapioca snow

Billie Wilson
The Daily Yomiuri, Go-Shichi-Go column (12/16/03)


snow on my head -
looking east
at blue skies

Schnee auf dem Kopf -
im Osten sehe ich
blauen Himmel

More than half of the valley in a blizzard, but just so, a little speck of hope in the sky too.

tracks in the snow
wild boars must have danced here
last night

Gabi Greve


a quiet night
silky snow
from the dark

Etsuko Yanagibori

a dusting of snow
blends with early plum --
evening twilight
(from a painting by Buson)



First flurries.
Squirrels add last leaves
to their nests.

Erste Schneeflocken.
Eichhörnchen polstern ihr Nest
mit letzten Blättern.

Beate Conrad
WHC German, January 15, 2008


Snow Branches
Picture by Michael Baribeau

Related words

***** snowman, snow Buddha
(yuki Daruma, yuki-botoke)



***** "Little Snow" (shoosetsu 小雪)
kigo for early winter
One of the 24 season points.
On November 22, it starts to get colder and rain changes to snow. It will rapidly get colde after this day.

shoosetsu ya
morning soup
with you

etsuko yanagibori

More about the 24 season points
WKD : The Asian Lunar Calendar


***** First Snow (hatsuyuki 初雪 / はつゆき ) Japan
kigo for early winter

***** Snowdrops Schneeglocken, a flower

***** Snow Geese (hakugan, kari, wataridori) Japan.


Check the WKD LIST of
. HUMANITY and Winter Kigo

. SAIJIKI - HEAVEN in all seasons  



Gabi Greve said...

. Heavy Snowfall in Japan, December 2005 .


Gabi Greve said...

. Blizzards in Japan, January 7, 2006 .


Gabi Greve said...

. Heavy Snow in Japan, January 11 2006 .


Anonymous said...

snow --
my Father's footprints
smaller than mine

Fran Masat

Gabi Greve said...

Domo arigatou, Gabi san!
This is a very useful article, and quite an interesting web site (Setsugekka).

> Origa
> http://origa.livejournal.com/
> http://www.yessy.com/origahaiku/
> http://www.hiero.ru/Origa


Gabi Greve said...


"snow lady", yuki onna 雪女, a kind of monster of Japanese legends. It might also be the "fairy of snow", so to speak, the personification of the soul of the snow, for the Japanese reader.

She is often seen on full moon nights and around the New Year.

Some say this expression refers to a particular physical quality of the snow of Northern Japan, when the conditions of humidity, coldness and moonlight are just right.


Gabi Greve said...


Such a great snow--
to find a place for snow-viewing--
thre's nowhere to go!

--Anonymous (late eighteenth century)

Look at more info and a hanga from Miyajima here.



Anonymous said...

dusted with snow
how they clamor!
the little brats

awayuki ni maburete sawagu gakira kana


by Issa, 1822

The ending of this haiku isn't clear in the manuscript. The editors of Issa zenshu^ read it as gakira: a gang of brats or urchins. The season word, "light snow" (awayuki), signifies a spring context.


Gabi Greve said...

solitary snowflake
slowly drifts downward ~

Tokugawa Hayato

Gabi Greve said...

shiranu ma ni/tsumorishi yuki no/fukasa kana

how thick
the snowfall has been
without my knowing


sabishisa wa/ki o tsumu asobi/tsumoru yuki

I play with building blocks,
the snow builds up outside

Kubota Mantaroo

Tr. Susumu Takiguchi

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

mochiyuki o shira-ito to nasu yanagi kana

like twisted white stripes
for the willow tree . . .

Matsuo Basho
Tr. Gabi Greve

Gabi Greve - facebook said...

lambs’ snow Romania

After the nine days associated with the nine lambcoats comes the snow of the lambs which brings an end to winter and leads the way to spring.
This last winter breath was named the ‘lambs’ snow’ because it is now that lambs are born.
first tulip-tree blooms
showing up-
lambs’ snow

Eugen Posa

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

miya hitotsu kannushi hitori daifubuki

just one shrine
just one Shinto priest
super blizzard

Muramatsu Azami 村松紅花
more about Shinto priests

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