What is Momijigari?

by Nicholas Amrit Rajalal

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on the Embassy of Japan in Trinidad and Tobago official website in November 2020 for their JET Programme series. Here is the original link to the article.

Momijigari quite literally means “colored leaves hunting.” So, why do Japanese people go hunting for these leaves every Autumn? It is because Japanese people enjoy celebrating the four seasons. In winter, they treasure the snow. In spring, they admire the sakura flowers. In summer, they look at fireflies and celebrate with fireworks, and, for autumn they seek out the beautiful changing colors of red yellow, and orange of the autumn leaves.

Where did this reverence for nature come from? Some say it’s because the Japanese were mostly rice farmers, so they had to pay attention to the changes in nature so that they could get a good harvest. That is why they respect nature and celebrate the earth. Momijigari became popular among the farmers because it came just after the hardest season for them- summer is so hot and humid, and now the weather was changing and was becoming more comfortable. Also, they had just finished cutting the fields at this time so now it was time for them to take a break. They made rice balls from the fresh rice from their harvest and they felt good relaxing and looking at the beautiful leaves.

Some of my Japanese friends will tell you that they associate three things with autumn: The cosmos flowers, fresh rice, and momijigari. For momijigari, they get a good feeling. They feel as if they are becoming a part of nature and it makes them happy. For me, I can say that I had a similar experience. You feel very free and relaxed while watching the beautiful scenery and the picture-perfect backdrops that the leaves present. If you ever visit Japan during the autumn months, then you should definitely try to take part in the momijigari festivities.

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