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

They were caused by coldness, drought or too much rain, volcanic eruptions and other natuaral disasters that influenced the rice harvest.

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

. Japanese Legends - 伝説 民話 昔話 – ABC-List .
Legends about famine are in the comments below.

***** General Information


- #kikin #famineinedo #hungersnot -


Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Legends about Famine
soy beans 大豆 daizu - red beans 小豆 azuki - 蕎麦 Soba - barley 麦 mugi

Around the 25th day of the 1st month in the year 1733 (享保18年1月25日頃) it suddenly rained grains from the sky in the Ise and Kinki region. People picked them up, made flour from them and ate them as dumplings.
On the 24th day of the 2nd month the same happened in Kyoto, from 京都四条河原 Shijo toward 松原 Matsubara.
And again it rained barley 麦 mugi and 蕎麦 Soba from the sky, but someone picked the grains up and they only looked like such.
And in the text year, there was a great famine.
Whatever it was, also known from the history of China, when it rained from the sky, next year was a famine 飢饉.

Legends about Soba

Gabi Greve said...

Tales from Miyagi 宮城県
tsuki 月 looking at the moon
On the first day of the year (according to the old lunar calendar)
if the moon looks yellow or blue-green, there will be kikin 飢饉 a famine or typhoon.
If the moon looks red, there will be a fire.
If the moon looks black, there will be water damage.
If the stars around the moon are close, someone will die.
If there is gesshoku 月食 a lunar eclipse, there will be
a typhoon or densenbyoo 伝染病 a pandemic in the the village.