Winter solstice (tooji)

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For Summer Solstice, see below.

Winter solstice (tooji, Japan)

***** Location: Japan, worldwide
***** Season: Mid-Winter
***** Category: Season


Winter solstice, tooji 冬至

ichiyoo raifuku 一陽来復(いちようらいふく)"sun comes back"
The 21st of December.

sakutan tooji 朔旦冬至 (さくたんとうじ )
"morning of the first and solstice"
when the solstice falls on November 1 of the lunar calendar. Once in 19 years, this is an auspicious day and has been celebrated at court.

On this special day, we eat pumpkin soup and take a bath with yuzu fruit (see below). This a Japanese custom to keep your good health in the winter season.
This day is also called "The sun is coming back" (ichiyoo raifuku 一陽来復). Yin and Yang are changing. Bad things are coming to an end and new, better ones are to be expected.

Etsuko Yanagibori


ichiyoo raifuku 一陽来福
a pun with "luck coming back"

This is also the name of restaurants and noodle soup.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

. . . CLICK here for Photos
of "sun coming back" !

At the temple Hojo-ji (hoojooji 放生寺) in Tokyo, there is a large stone memorial with these words in the compounds.

A ricewine from Niigata with this name
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

At the shrine Ana Hachimangu in Tokyo people come at the day of the winter solstice to buy this amulet. It is good for business and to make money, when they put it into the auspicious driection of the new year (ehoo 恵方). They also hang it outside on the last day of the year and for the Setsubun rituals in February. The letters of the amulet have to face the auspicious direction.
Just as shadow receedes to new light, bad fortune will not receede and good luck is bound to come.


. Amulets and Talismans from Japan . 

. Auspicious direction of this year (ehoo 恵方) .


by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
The sun goddess Amaterasu emerges from her cave.

. Amaterasu Oomikami (Omikami) 天照大神 .
The Sun Deity of Japan


Some Astronomical Facts
As the Earth travels around the Sun in its orbit, the north-south position of the Sun changes over the course of the year due to the changing orientation of the Earth's tilted rotation axes with respect to the Sun. A QuickTime movie illustrates the tilt of the Earth's equatorial plane relative to the Sun which is responsible for the seasons. The dates of maximum tilt of the Earth's equator correspond to the summer solstice and winter solstice, and the dates of zero tilt to the vernal equinox and autumnal equinox.

In the northern hemisphere, the Winter solstice is day of the year (near December 22) when the Sun is farthest south. However, in the southern hemisphere, winter and summer solstices are exchanged so that the winter solstice is the day on which the Sun is farthest north. The winter solstice marks the first day of the season of winter. The declination of the Sun on the (northern) winter solstice is known as the tropic of capricorn (-23° 27').

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, respectively, in the sense that the length of time elapsed between sunrise and sunset on this day is a minimum for the year. Of course, daylight saving time means that the first Sunday in April has 23 hours and the last Sunday in October has 25 hours, but these human meddlings with the calendar and do not correspond to the actual number of daylight hours. In Chicago, there are 9:20 hours of daylight on the winter solstice of December 22, 1999.


Virtually all cultures have their own way of acknowledging this moment. The Welsh word for solstice translates as “the point of roughness,” while the Talmud calls it “Tekufat Tevet,” first day of “the stripping time.” For the Chinese, winter’s beginning is “dongzhi,” when one tradition is making balls of glutinous rice, which symbolize family gathering. In Korea, these balls are mingled with a sweet red bean called pat jook. According to local lore, each winter solstice a ghost comes to haunt villagers. The red bean in the rice balls repels him.

In parts of Scandinavia, the locals smear their front doors with butter so that Beiwe, sun goddess of fertility, can lap it up before she continues on her journey. (One wonders who does all the mopping up afterward.) Later, young women don candle-embedded helmets, while families go to bed having placed their shoes all in a row, to ensure peace over the coming year.

Street processions are another common feature. In Japan, young men known as “sun devils,” their faces daubed to represent their imagined solar ancestry, still go among the farms to ensure the earth’s fertility (and their own stocking-up with alcohol). In Ireland, people called wren-boys take to the roads, wearing masks or straw suits. The practice used to involve the killing of a wren, and singing songs while carrying the corpse from house to house.

Sacrifice is a common thread. In areas of northern Pakistan, men have cold water poured over their heads in purification, and are forbidden to sit on any chair till the evening, when their heads will be sprinkled with goats’ blood. (Unhappy goats.) Purification is also the main object for the Zuni and Hopi tribes of North America, their attempt to recall the sun from its long winter slumber. It also marks the beginning of another turning of their “wheel of the year,” and kivas (sacred underground ritual chambers) are opened to mark the season.
source : www.nytimes.com/2010
Richard Cohen, author of
“Chasing the Sun:
The Epic Story of the Star That Gives Us Life.”

Worldwide use


The Winter Solstice, or Yule,
is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It is associated with the birth of the Sun King. It falls on the first day of winter, which is either 21 or 22 December, and is celebrated as the day that the Sun is reborn (later adapted by Christianity as the "son" is born) to warm the Earth again. Yule comes from the word Jule, which in Old Norse means, "wheel."

Celtic people celebrate Yule as the battle between the aging Holly King, who represents the darkness of the old year, and the young Oak King, who symbolizes the light of the new year. Sometimes the battle is re-enacted during the burning of the Yule log — which is done to encourage the Sun's easy birth, welcome it back to Earth.

This was a time of joy and hope — a holiday meant to uplift spirits weary from winter and a time to appreciate the wonders that will come with the spring.

Along with the evergreen, the holly and the ivy and the mistletoe were important plants of the season, all symbolizing fertility and everlasting life. According to the Bardic Tradition, the Winter Solstice was called 'Alban Arthan' by the Druids. It was then that the Chief Druid cut the sacred mistletoe from the Oak. The Celtic Druids would cut the mistletoe with a golden sickle on the sixth night of the moon. Later Christian churches would ban mistletoe from Christmas celebrations because of its fertility rite connotations.

In addition to fertility rituals, divinations were cast for the coming Spring both through ritual means and through good-natured taunting and wagering.
© www.irelandsown.net


Silver-white frostwork
sleeping in winter-clad towns:
Yule hibernation

Nuala Ní Chonchúir
(from ¡Divas! New Irish Women's Writing publ. by Arlen House)

WKD : Winter Solstice in Ireland


"Eucalyptus Yule"
Winter solstice June 2010 in Australia

Winter Solstice Celebrations around the World


. Sanziana, Yellow Bedstraw (Galium verum) .
Midsummer Rituals in Romania

Things found on the way


saboten o kamiza ni naosu tooji kana

I move my cactus
to the upper shelf –
it’s Winter Solstice.

Kobayashi Issa 一茶 文化二
(Tr. Robin Gill)


fuu-un no sukoshiku asobu tooji kana

wind and clouds
playing just a little -
winter soltice

(Tr. Gabi Greve)

Ishida Hakyo (1913-1969) 石田波郷 

Fuu-un can also mean: winds and clouds/elements/situation/state of affairs


winter solstice
in both directions


From the Shiki Archives. The Photo above is also from this link.
Read more haiku on this topic here:


winter solstice
a titmouse moves deeper
into the bush

B. Ross

winter solstice-
where are my
sheepskin slippers?

Kate Steere


and some incense smoke -
the longest night

und Incenserauch -
die laengste Nacht

Gabi Greve


winter solstice
a rainbow
around the moon

susan delphine delaney


winter solstice -
a dark shadow grows

gabi greve, Dezember 2008

I Ching 24. Fu - Return (The Turning Point)
and some musings about American Haiku

Related words

***** Plum blossoms of the Winter Solstice
(tooji bai 冬至梅)

The Japanese UME is in fact an apricot, but usually translated as plum blossoms.

Fritz Capelari (1884-1950)

apricot blossoms
start to bloom
the winter solstice

etsuko yanagibori


horibata no kaze no amasa ya tooji bai

the wind from the riverbank
smells so sweet -
plums at winter solstice
(Tr. Gabi Greve)

source : www.hpmix.com/home/tetsuan/


The Winter Solstice day and the time around it is a time to care for your health, with food like this and with a hot bath.

***** Pumpkin Soup at the Winter Solstice
(tooji kabocha 冬至南瓜)

tooji konnyaku 冬至蒟蒻(とうじこんにゃく)konyak for winter solstice
tooji mochi 冬至餅(とうじもち) ricecakes for winter solstice

***** Rice Gruel at the Winter Solstice
(tooji-gayu 冬至粥)

akaragashiwa 赤柏(あからがしわ)"red oak"
azuki no kayu 赤豆の粥(あずきのかゆ)gruel with red adzuki beans

***** Yuzu Bath on the Winter Solstice Day
yuzu yu 柚子湯 (ゆずゆ) / yuzuburo 柚子風呂(ゆずぶろ
(tooji yu 冬至湯, tooji-buro冬至風呂)

... ... see Yuzu (citron family)

. . . . .

. kiku no toojime 菊の冬至芽(きくのとうじめ)
chrysanthemum budding at the winter solstice


***** Long Night (yonaga, nagaki yo 夜長、長き夜) 
kigo for atumn
(The above link also includes explanations for : short night, long day, short day.)

Properly speaking, the longest night is that of the winter solstice (around 21 December by the Gregorian calendar), but "long night(s)" as an autumn topic is based less on the calendar than on poetic sensibility: the contrast with summer's brief nights. At night-work or reading a book in the pleasant climate of autumn, one keenly feels the lengthening nights.

yamadori no eda fumikayuru yonaga kana

a copper pheasant's
feet fidget on the branch--
this long night

Buson ... 蕪村


yoso ni naru yonaga no tokei kazoekeri

distant striking
of a clock in the long night--
I counted each

Sugita Hisajo .... 杉田久女


long night
moon playing hide and seek
with the sun

Ella Wagenmakers


***** Summer Solstice, geshi 夏至
kigo for mid-summer

geshi no hi 夏至の日(げしのひ)day of the summer solstice
geshi no ame 夏至の雨(げしのあめ)rain on the summer solstice
geshi no yoru 夏至の夜(げしのよる)night of the summer solstice
geshi yokaze 夏至夜風(げしよかぜ)windy night of the summer solstice

geshi byakuya 夏至白夜(げしびゃくや)
white night of the summer solstice

white night in the polar region (byakuya)

Chinese astronomers determining the summer solstice
The Mathematics of the Chinese Calendar

The Summer Solstice is the beginning of the Astronomical Summer, and is often considered the start of summer in the United States (even though Summer vacations started at the end of the school year--usually in May).
The traditional European Summer, as well as the definition of Summer used for Japanese haiku, has the Summer Solstice as the middle of the Summer season.

Click HERE to see more photos, of Stonehenge and other places

first night of summer...
neither the mockingbird
nor I can sleep

© gK


summer solstice --
an old pine anchors
the moon

Laryalee Frazer, 2005


summer solstice--
we hang suspended
in the first light

John Daleiden, June 2006


sweltering . . .
the summer solstice
a month away

Laura Becker Sherman
- WKD facebook 2012 -


ENYOVDEN / Enyo’s Day (Midsummer Day)
June 24

Name day of everyone named Yanko, Yana, Yanka.

This ancient Bulgarian ritual is considered the turning point in the mythological calendar of the ancient people – a ritual connected to the summer Equinox, when the day is longest and the night is shortest. Enyovden / Enyo’s Day is a favorite summer holiday for young and old. It practically divides the year into two. It is believed that after that feast, winter sets on its long way to the people. The story of Enyo putting on his furcoat and going to search for snow reminds that it is time to think of the long cold months to come.
People get up early that day to see the sun “turning three times” - whoever manages to "bathe" in the dew will be safe from illnesses until Midsummer Day next year. Old people say the legend of Enyo - once upon a time, in a village, there used to live two young people, Enyo and Stana, who were very much in love. Every day they thought of each other,and the bread had no taste at all until they saw each another at least from afar. But the girl’s father had decided else and arranged an engagement for Stana in another village.
source : www.plovdivguide.com

standing tall
in front of the sun-

- Shared by Tzetzka Ilieva -
Haiku Culture Magazine, 2013


Solstice December 2012 - Mayan Doomsday

A New Age interpretation of this transition was that the date marked the start of a period during which Earth and its inhabitants would undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, and that 21 December 2012 would mark the beginning of a new era.
Others suggested that the date marked the end of the world or a similar catastrophe. Scenarios suggested for the end of the world included the arrival of the next solar maximum, an interaction between Earth and the black hole at the center of the galaxy,or Earth's collision with a planet called Nibiru.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

snowy morning,
December 21...
reciting Basho

for Mayan Doomsday believers

Chen-ou Liu


. jikan 時間 time in Edo - Edo no jikoku 江戸の時刻 .





Gabi Greve said...

KIGO : Winter Solstice in Ireland


Anonymous said...


There is no official Winter Solstice holiday in the USA, per se, but some Americans observe the longest night as beginning the annual cycle of renewal. In my household we hold a big dinner party, light candles and incense, drink and dance and sing with family and friends all night long. This year over 60 people showed up to our party!

Native Americans (sometimes called "Indians") celebrated the Winter Solstice with a large bonfire and performed the Ghost Bear Dance.
Throughout pre-Columbian North America, the Bear was a revered ghost spirit and a source of health and strength.


There is a small but active Wiccan community in North America which
observes the ancient Pagan rites of the Druids, a neolithic Celtic
culture from the British Isles. Druid culture was largely extinguished by early Christians in Ireland and England, and the Solstice was replaced by Christmas (yet another renewal celebration).

I have read that people worldwide have celebrated the solstices and equinoxes from the earliest recorded times.

I met my spouse on the Winter Solstice, and married on the Summer Solstice -- auspicious days, yes? Since I am part Irish and part Native American, I enjoy following these traditions and celebrating the magic of my mixed ancestral beliefs.

--Billie Dee

winter solstice
mulled wine and laughter
spice the night

winter solstice
the spirit of the great bear

yule log
keeping vigil
through the longest night

winter solstice
we dance and sing till dawn
breaks the magic

of the yule log
still glowing at dawn



Gabi Greve said...

Thank you, Billie Dee san for your interesting talk on Native Americans.
In Japan there were same kind of people who were called Ainu.
Here is a site about them,


I think Ainu and Indians belong to the same race.


Thanks for reminding us about the Ainu. This is a wonderful LINK!

Anonymous said...

sakuo san
thanking you for the information you sent ...
so very interesting... a coincidence the hawaiian word for the land is aina ..and your ainu were people of the land...

aloha from Hawaii

Gabi Greve said...

ice lantern -
some more light
for winter solstice

Juhani Tikkanen

Thanks for sharing you wonderful lantern!

Gabi Greve - Buson said...

Yosa Buson

貧乏な 儒者とひ来(きた)る 冬至哉
binboo na jusha toi-kitaru tooji kana

a poor Confucian scholar
comes to visit
for the winter solstice . . .
Tr. Gabi Greve

The cut marker KANA is at the end of line 2.
Buson and Confucian Scholars

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Zen-In no kodomo kashi morau tooji kana

the children at Zen-In
all get some sweets
at the winter solstice . . .

Kuroyanagi Shooha 黒柳召波 Kuroyanagi Shoha (1727-1771)

Zen-In, Sekizan Zen-In 赤山禅院 - Kyoto

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Bamboo shoot legend from Gunma 群馬県
勢多郡 Seta district

seri to takenoko 芹,筍,dropwort and bamboo shoots

Dropwort begins to grow in the fifth (lunar) month, bamboo shoots come out after the summer solstice (and Summer retreat for Buddhists 半夏 bange).
Plants that come out on the 11th day after the solstice (now this is the 2nd of July) are forbidden to eat.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

光松山 Koshozan 威盛院 Ijo-In 放生寺 Hojo-Ji
新宿区西早稲田2-1-14 / 2 Chome-1-14 Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku ward
Ana Hachimangu 穴八幡宮 / Takada Hachiman 高田八幡

東京都新宿区西早稲田2-1-11 / Tokyo, Shinjuku, Nishiwaseda, 2−1−11

Gabi Greve said...

Legend about summer solstice
Nagasaki, 西海市 Saikai city

akappara 赤っぱら "red stomach" - local dialect for sekiri

If people eat カボチャぞうすい pumpkin rice gruel on the geshi 夏至 summer solstice, they will not get any epidemy or sekiri 赤痢 bloody diarrhea.

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