Kisaragi (如月) February

Naked am I
Still changing clothes
In Kisaragi, doesn’t it storm
?

hadaka ni wa, mada kisaragi no, arashi kana

はだかにはまだ衣更着のあらし哉

Bridge in a Snowy Landscape, Hiroshige Utagawa, 1842-3

February 2021, it storms

Recent events here in the Midwest reveal that Nature sometimes keeps its worst weather for February. January in Japan is bitterly cold. February, occasionally, will give hints of spring. The February weather changes day by day which explains why the Japanese lunar calendar name for February is kisaragi, 如月, or kinusaragi, 衣更着, which implies the changing of clothes in the anticipation of spring.

Hold on, says Matuso Basho, old man winter is not done.

I am guessing Basho showed up for (or heard about) the Naked Man Festival, Saidai-ji Eyo — Hadaka Matsuri, held in Okayama in February each year. It has been going on 500 years, but in Basho’s time it was somewhat new. The idea of men, nearly naked, hadaka, jostling for a lucky object, hoping to become Fukuotoko, the “lucky man” must have seemed strange.

Thus, it is not hard to imagine Basho saying,

Undressing
Removing clothes
What, in February, it storms!

Or Basho No-Yona adding,

Dressing today
For yesterday’s weather –
Strange looks

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