“春” (shun) is kanji for spring and “分” (bun) is kanji for “to divide”. In other words, "shunbun" describes the official divide of winter and spring. It's not celebrated as much here in LA because do we even have seasons? But it's nice to know that it's getting warmer and it's that time of year again where pretty flowers are blooming! ...Unless you have allergies of course.
So how is this holiday celebrated in Japan?
During the Meiji Era (1868-1912) it became a national holiday derived from Buddhist belief of a river (Sanzu no Kawa) that divides life from the afterlife or the world of enlightenment. It is believed that when night and day are equal length (during both spring and fall equinox), Buddha helps stray souls cross to the other side of the river.
Since it's a public holiday, everyone gets school and work off. (Lucky!!) It's traditional for families to reunite on this day and visit burial sites of their ancestors to clean gravestones, replant flowers, offer incense, and pray as a way to honor them. Ohagi and botamochi are often left to give nourishment to ancestors in their journey.
Ohagi and botamochi are yummy Japanese sweets that is made with sweet rice and azuki paste. Ohagi comes from the autumn flower "hagi" (bush clover) and botamochi comes from the spring flower "botan" (peony).
Hope you enjoyed the super moon last night!