Hi no michi ya
Path of sun
aoi leans toward it
rains of the fifth month
Hi no michi, the path of the sun in the sky. Matsuo Basho, haiku poet, wrote these lines about the futaba-aoi, Asarum caulescens, as it leans toward the hi no michi on the fifth lunar month during the rains. This aoi is the plant of the Aoi Matsuri, famed festival of Kyoto annually on May 15.
Asarum caulescens, http://studiesofplantsandwildlife.blogspot.com/
Ancient people observed the movement of the sun in the sky. Even Basho wrote about it in the 17th century. Plants, especially food crops, follow the sun. Animals and humans also depend on the light and warmth of the sun. Hi no michi is about life itself.
Hi no michi also determined the seasons of the year. Nihonjin are still very aware of the seasons, in the foods that they eat, the clothing that they wear, the art they display. There is an expression, hi shiri, to know the sun, sometimes abbreviated hijiri. To know the sun was to know something very important, something sacred. To know the sun was to know time.
Hi no Michi alignment map. Iwaya Rockbat has recently seen Okunomichi’s report on a map of important shrines throughout Japan connected by the Hi no Michi, on a monument at Izanagi Jingu on Awajishima. This suggests that ancient shrines were aligned to the solstice directions, centered at Izanagi Jingu. These directions correspond to the sun’s path in the sky.
Hi no Michi at Kanayama Megaliths. The solar calendar of Kanayama Megaliths is based on the path of the sun during the year. The sun travels in a certain zone in the sky. Its northern limit is during the summer solstice day, while its southernmost is at winter solstice. At the equinoxes, the sun travels the central path in the sky. This diagram represents four dates of solar observations at many megalithic sites including Kanayama.
At Kanayama, however, there are four additional dates to be included, days on which the sun travels a path in the sky that is mid-way between the lines shown in the figure. Those dates are 4/23, 8/20, 10/23, and 2/19. These dates are valid irrespective of latitude of the site. There are still more dates of observation at Kanayama, such as 5/21 and 10/15, as these photos show. We do not know of any other megalithic site with solar observations on these dates.
(L) May 21 dashed spotlight. (R) October 15 spotlight on leap-year stone.
All told the Kanayama astronomer, ancient or modern, makes nearly thirty different observations during the course of a year. These observations ensure the precision of the Kanayama calendar so that it is fifteen times more accurate than the current Gregorian calendar in wide use. It will be off by one day after 51,000 years of operation. The megaliths are old, but probably not so old as that!