Famine in spring (shunkyuu)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Late spring
***** Category: Humanity


Shunkyuu 春窮 (しゅんきゅう)
food scarcity in spring
famine, Lebensmittelknappheit im Fruehling

From April to May, when the provisions for winter where coming to an end and the new harvest not yet ready, rural people, especially in Hokkaido and Northern Japan had to live through hard times, food-wise. Sometimes they would use the roots of plants and trees and edible leaves from trees to prepare their meager meals.


Great famine periods in the Japanese history
kikin 飢饉

養和の飢饉 - 1181年に発生。Yoowa

寛喜の飢饉 - 1231年に発生。 Kangi
長禄・寛正の飢饉 - 1459年-1461年 Chooroku
Famine of 1619

The four big famine periods in the Edo time

寛永の大飢饉 Kanei, 1642, drought
享保の大飢饉 Kyooho, 1732, locusts
天明の大飢饉 Tenmei, 1782, Mt. Asama eruption
天保の大飢饉 Tenpoo, Tenpo 1832 - 1839, flooding and cold

昭和東北大飢饉 - 1930年~1934年。 Shoowa time

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The famine of Tenmei

Sweets from Tohoku, Northern Japan
Prepared during the Tenmei famine

koorimochi 凍もち frozen mochi
matsukawa mochi 松皮餅(まつかわもち)"mochi from pine bark"

Yakimochi Fudoo Son 焼き餅不動尊
and the famine of Tenmei around Mount Asama


hotarumeshi, hotaru meshi ホタル飯 "firefly rice"
ほたるめし / 蛍飯

During the hunger periods. 190 g rice was cooked with 4,300 g of starowort leaves (yomena) and mugwort (yomogi). The few white rice grains would look like fireflies in the green leaves mush.

Another way to make cooked rice last longer during a famine was putting more water into rice gruel, calling it
"mirror rice" (kagami meshi 鏡飯) or
omoyu おもゆ 重湯).

100 Dishes from Edo

Worldwide use

Hungersnot, Hungerperiode

Things found on the way

kome kui nezumi 米喰鼠 / 米食いねずみ mouse eating rice
folk toy from Ishikawa

. Mouse and the Famine of Tenpo .


shunkyuu no amari kamisori togi ni keri

severe spring famine ...
he begins to sharpen
his razor

Ishikawa Keiroo 石川桂郎
Tr. Gabi Greve


odoke dolls -
not enough farmers left
to keep things going

the great famine of Tenmei in 1782 in Soma, Fukushima

. Fukushima Folk Toys .

Related words

HUNGER and Haiku

***** General Information


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