A Winter Entertainment

  1. A winter entertainment of the Edo Era
  2. An entertainment for a boy in a seaside town
  3. The power of naming
  • ルビ付き和文  Japanese translation with Ruby


1. A winter entertainment of the Edo Era

A view from Fujimi-bashi bridge, Sayama-shi, where you can have a wonderful kareno-mi, a winter entertainment in the Edo Era
[Click to enlarge./画像をクリックすると拡大します] Perfect for the winter outing, the dead field on Iruma-gawa River seen from Fujimi-bashi Bridge, Sayama-shi, Saitama Prefecture / 枯れ見にぴったり。埼玉・狭山市の富士見橋から入間川の枯れ野を見晴らす, Image by Amity

In early January, we had the opportunity to walk in wintry fields and gardens in Japan.

The fields were all brown with dead grass and bare tree branches.

However, the unexpected beauty of the view reminded us of the long-lost winter entertainment, an outing called “kare-mi-no”. 

“Kare-mi-no” or dead field viewing, is not practiced in today’s Japan but they say the Edokko folks used to enjoy it. 

Edokko means Edo (present-day Tokyo)-born, working-class people living in certain parts of downtown Edo during the 17th through mid 19th century. They were known for having a special lifestyle and philosophy. They also had a certain freedom of spirit. For example, sometimes they would find value in things that people of upper class, other areas, or from earlier times had not paid much attention to.

This winter entertainment of “kare-no-mi” was one of them. They would invite each other and go out on a warmer day in winter. The sole purpose was to see the brownish view of the totally dead field. 

I imagine they would bring some “sake” (wine) in a small jug of unglazed pottery and something nice to go with it such as dried squid. Or they were looking forward to dropping in at a teahouse on the way back. Then they would have a hot cup of tea and some sweets such as rice cake with bean paste.

2. An entertainment for a boy in a seaside town

My father grew up near the warm sea in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture. When he was small, he would go to the beach often. There he would play with crabs, catch fish and clams, or just walk on the sand. As he walked, he looked for such small treasures as pretty shells, eroded and rounded rocks and glass pieces. 

When I learned the English word “beach-combing” and told him about it, he was immensely amused. To him, it was just a humble, frugal style of entertainment. He didn’t think it deserved such a fancy name like that.

3. The power of naming

In today’s Japan, the tradition of “kare-no-mi” has been lost. It seems that as seasonal outings, we now only practice [cherry] blossom viewing (“o-hana-mi”), hiking in the mountains covered with vibrant greenery, fall foliage viewing (“momiji-gari”) or viewing of snowy scenes (“yuki-mi”). 

However, there must still be a lot of small, enjoyable activities even if we don’t know how to call them. “Beach-combing” and the wintry entertainment of “kare-mi-no” are good examples. Even “gardening” and “bird-watching” must have been something, at the beginning, you would wonder why people wanted to call such commonplace activities with imposing names.

Giving names to nameless activities on our own would cast new light on them. In addition, it might allow us to focus more and be happier in our engagement to them!

[End of the English post]



  1. ふゆたのしみ
  2. うみまちしょうねんたのしみ
  3. けのちから



A photo of a view from a garden in Shinjuku Gyoen, a would-be excellent destination of karenomi, an winter entertainment of the Edo Era.
[Click to enlarge/画像をクリックすると拡大します] A view in a garden in Meiji Shrine, Tokyo/東京・明治神宮御苑








2. うみまちしょうねんたのしみ








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