I’ve been writing about the foods of Spring and how they can alter moods. Naturally, if you’ll excuse the pun, this led to Japan, where seasonality in all things has deep meaning and rich irony in terms of the celebration of both the real and temporal. Maybe centuries of relative isolation on mountainous islands surrounded by an at times vicious and unpredictable ocean and seas makes one attend to one’s surroundings more spiritually.
I discovered the word “hashiri” while doing my research. It means, “first of the season or harvest or crop,” and is a designation meant to specify the force of that first visceral experience of, say, asparagus or an apple or perhaps a fat, ripe strawberry.
Then a friend in Japan–Kiyomi T.–taught me two more words.
“Sakari” (or “shun”) means best of the season. What other language has a word for the best of a seasonal product? That focus has obvious appeal. It implies you must take your senses and examine what’s before you. Observation rather than introspection or cheap emotionality.
Finally, she told me about “nagori,” which she defined as remnant or end of the season. The last of the crop, which is all we have left.