Japan used to use a lunar calendar that included some of the elements of the solar calendar. The old calendar divided one solar year into twenty-four portions of equal length in order to precisely indicate the seasons. The twenty-four dividing points between the seasons were known as nijushi-sekki in Japanese, and each of them had its own name. Risshun was one of those 24 dividing points. Risshun is still known as the first day of spring according to the old calendar. The old calendar set more dates and periods in addition to the 24 dividing points in order to appropriately indicate the change of seasons. These dates and periods that include setsubun, nyubai, nihyaku-toka, doyo, and higan were called zassetsu in Japanese. Hachiju-hachi-ya was one of those dates and periods. Hachiju-hachi-ya fell on the eighty-eighth day after the first day of spring (risshun). This date falls on the second of May according to the Gregorian calendar that is currently used. Spring is nearly over in Japan at this time of the year and summer is coming. It is a beautiful season full of fresh green leaves and clear skies. It is also the best season for picking tea.
Japanese farmers generally plant rice seedlings in seedbeds around hachiju-hachi-ya. The seedbeds for rice seedlings are called nawashiro in Japanese. They also sow their fields with many different farm products including vegetables and flowers in the same period. This is the standard period, and it is not appropriate for planting seedlings and sowing seeds in some parts of Japan because the climate varies in Japan from the north to the south.