Haru Ichiban: The First Wind of Spring in Japan

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What is Haru Ichiban?

“Haru Ichiban” refers to the first strong south wind that signals the arrival of spring in Japan. This phenomenon is widely recognized as a symbolic event that heralds the coming of spring.

Specifically, Haru Ichiban refers to the strong south or southwest wind that blows mainly along the Pacific side of Japan between Risshun (around February 4th) and Shunbun (around March 20th). As this wind blows during the transition period from the cold of winter to the warmth of spring, it is considered a symbolic wind that brings the feeling of spring’s arrival.

When Did the Term Originate?

The exact origin of the term “Haru Ichiban” is not clearly documented, but it is believed to have started being used as a meteorological term in the late 19th to early 20th century when weather observations began to be conducted.

The word “Ichiban” was originally used to indicate that something was the first or the best. Haru Ichiban came to refer to the first strong south wind that announces the arrival of spring and subsequently became widely used among the general public.

As meteorology advanced and the characteristics of seasonal changes and winds were observed in more detail, the term Haru Ichiban gained a more specific definition. Today, Haru Ichiban is recognized as one of the important terms in Japanese meteorology.

Characteristics of Haru Ichiban

Here are the main characteristics of Haru Ichiban:

  1. Timing: Haru Ichiban occurs between Risshun (around February 4th) and Shunbun (around March 20th). This period marks the transition from winter to spring when the climate gradually becomes warmer.
  2. Direction: Haru Ichiban is often a wind that blows from the south or southwest. This wind brings warm air, mainly to the Pacific side of the Japanese archipelago.
  3. Strength: Haru Ichiban is a relatively strong wind. At times, it can turn into a gale and cause high waves on the sea and coastal areas.
  4. Temperature Change: When Haru Ichiban blows, the temperature can rise rapidly. This eases the cold of winter and brings a feeling of spring’s arrival.
  5. Impact on Nature: The influence of Haru Ichiban can be seen in nature, such as the melting of snow and the budding of plants, signaling the coming of spring.
  6. Meteorological Conditions: Haru Ichiban often occurs when a low-pressure system passes south of Japan, and its occurrence is greatly influenced by the surrounding pressure patterns.

With these characteristics, Haru Ichiban is considered one of the symbolic phenomena of spring in Japan.

Observation Dates of Past Haru Ichiban

Haru Ichiban is recorded as part of weather observations, and the date of occurrence varies by region. Meteorological organizations such as the Japan Weather Association publish the observation results every year. Here is a summary of the Haru Ichiban observations in the Kanto region for the past 10 years.

Observation Dates of Haru Ichiban in the Past 10 Years (from 2023)

YearObservation Date
2023March 1
2022March 5
2021February 4
2020February 22
2019March 9
2018March 1
2017February 17
2016February 14
2015Not observed
2014March 18
2013March 1

Is There a Haru Niban?

So, does “Haru Niban” (the second wind of spring) exist? In fact, the term “Haru Niban” is not commonly used in contrast to Haru Ichiban. Since Haru Ichiban refers to the first strong south wind of the year, no special names are given to subsequent strong winds. However, strong south winds can blow even after Haru Ichiban, but they are generally referred to simply as strong winds or warm south winds.

Conclusion

Haru Ichiban not only has significance as a meteorological phenomenon but is also used as a word symbolizing the arrival of spring or a new beginning in literature, poetry, and songs. When this wind blows, the cold of winter subsides, and nature regains its vitality, making it an exciting event for many people.

Considering Haru Ichiban as a symbol of the transition from the cold winter to the warm spring, it’s something to look forward to each year.

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