Old-Style Japanese names of months (旧暦の月名)

Before Japan was restyled along the Western lines in the 19th century, it had enjoyed about three centuries of relatively isolated existence off the easternmost side of Eurasia. Even before that, a strong urge for departing from perceived cultural dependence on China, a great influence on Japan since its early days, had kept cropping up in various circles of Japanese society. Consequently, practically every aspect of Japanese life had evolved deliciously original or creatively reinvented to develop a rather unique flavour. 
For example, the latter-day boring names of months – the First month for January, the Second month for February, etc. – were predated by colourful native Japanese (Yamato) names.
I remember listening to a song by Nakajima Miyuki many, many years ago and admiring just how much more powerful and graphic was 嵐明けの如月compared to a mere 寒い二月.
Here’s a list of all old-style Japanese names for months with most widely accepted explanations of their  meanings:
  • 1月/January:睦月(むつき) Mutsuki – the month when families gather to celebrate;
  • 2月/February:如月/更衣(きさらぎ) Kisaragi – the month when winter clothes are changed for spring ones;
  • 3月/March:弥生(やよい)Yayoi – the month when leaves and grass finally become abundant;
  • 4月/April:卯月(うづき)Udzuki – the month when deutzia flowers (u no hana) blossom;
  • 5月/May:皐月/早月(さつき) Satsuki – the month to plant rice;
  • 6月/June:水無月(みなづき) Minadzuki – the month when the tsuyu rains stop;
  • 7月/July:文月(ふみつき/ふづき) Fudzuki – the month of poem-writing for the Tanabata festival;
  • 8月/August:葉月(はづき) Hadzuki – the month when leaves start turning yellow;
  • 9月/September:長月(ながつき)/菊月(きくづき) Nagatsuki/Kikudzuki – the month whe nights start growing longer or the month when chrysanthemums blossom;
  • 10月/October:神無月(かんなづき) Kannadzuki – the month when the first sake of the year is drunk as offering to gods;
  • 11月:霜月(しもつき)Shimotsuki – the month when frost starts appearing;
  • 12月:師走(しわす)/極月(ごくげつ) Shiwasu/Gokugetsu – the month when Buddhist priests are busy running end-of-the-year errands or the final month.

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