JapaneseThe Four Seasons in Ihatov
Iwate prefecture lies at a northern latitude of 39K41', much farther north than Tokyo (35K41'),
so naturally winters are cold and summers are cool. In Tokyo,
midsummer temperatures top 30 on an average of 45 days annually, but Morioka in Iwate has only 18 days a year above 30 (1997 Rika Nenpyo ["1997 Science Yearbook"]), National Astronomical Observatory of Japan). The clear, luminous character of the world portrayed in Kenji's literary works is indebted to these refreshing summers. Another side to summers with few hot days is that cold weather damage to crops tends to occur easily. This is a prominent theme in Kenji's stories.
Deciduous broadleaf forests account for much of the vegetation in Iwate. In the autumn nuts from walnut, chestnut, horse chestnut, and oak are plentiful in these forests. As a food, these nuts surpass those from the laurel forests found primarily in western Japan. This is one factor in the birth of the rich Jomon culture (10,000 BC to 300 BC,well-known by powerful and beautiful pottery) in Tohoku. Acorns, chestnuts, and horse chestnut cakes often play an important role in Kenji's stories.
Iwate's winters are harsh. In Morioka, the midwinter average temperature does not climb above 0 on 19 days on the average. In contrast, Tokyo has no winter days with average temperatures at or below 0. In January snow falls in Iwate on 26 days out of the month.
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