When rain falls from a blue sky
in the hour of the horse
the great fox king takes his bride.
Today, as I drove to work, the sun was shining and yet it began to pour rain. Huge gusts of wind buffeted my car, dry leaves blew across the street and suddenly the rain turned into hail. It was mysterious weather. Weather which caused my Japanese mind to immediately recall the expression “Kitsune no Yomeiri” — A Fox’s Wedding.
Above is a translation of a 19th century Japanese haiku master, Masaoka Shiki. But what is a fox king? Recently, the popular TV anime, Naruto, has a hero who is possessed by a nine-tailed fox. Foxes play a large role in Japanese culture: a mischievous, magical, clever and bewitching creature. Rain during the sunshine is part of the Japanese fox’s story.
Rain during sunshine, being unusual, is given special names in many languages and countries. In English we boringly calls this phenomena “sunshowers” and even then, most people don’t know this phrase. With a little reading, in this wiki article I found three big patterns for naming sunshowers in other countries:
- Bear: Bulgaria
- Donkeys: Greece
- Donkey and Monkey: Sudan
- Foxes: Japan, Bangladesh
- Jackals: Pakistan
- Wolf & Jackal: Afrikaans, Morocco
- Wolves: Algeria, France
- Deer: El Salvador
- Hyena: Eritrea
- Lioness: Tanzania
- Southern USA & Hungary: some call it “the devil is beating his wife” (the rain being her tears).
- Catalonia, Spain: the witches are brushing their hair
- Croatia: Gypsies are getting married
- Puerto Rico: A witch is getting married
- Haiti: Zombie is beating his wife for salty food
Well, I enjoyed exploring all this today, so I thought I’d share it here. Click here to read a good article on the Japanese tradition.