Hakuro runs for 15 days from around September 8 to Shu’ubun. Hakuro also marks the beginning of chu’ushu’u (仲秋), which actually means the month of August by lunar calendar. Hakuro literally means “white dew” forming on grass. Picture a field of grasses wet with morning dew after a chilly night. It may be hot during the day, but the morning and evening air deepens its chill by the day.
Shu’ubun is a 15-day period starting from around September 23 and continues until Kanro. On Shu’ubun, just like Shunbun, the sun rises from the true east and set in the true west. The length of the day is roughly the same as that of the night.
Higan, spring and fall, begins 3 days before Shunbun and Shu’ubun, respectively. Higan lasts for 7 days. Therefore, Shunbun and Shu’ubun are the “middle day” of Higan (Higan no chu’unichi). Because the sun sets in the true west, where the Paradise is believed to exist, it is a day to remember those who passed. In the Buddhist tradition, our world of the living is on this side (Shigan) of River Styx (“Sanzu no kawa“), whereas the ancestors’ spirits dwell on the other side (Higan) of the river.
Originally published September 2, 2015