In Japan, the 88th day after the start of Spring in the traditional Japanese calendar, which falls around May 2nd, is known as the “88th night.” This marks the time when the plants and vegetation begin to bloom, and tea leaves start to sprout. Drinking tea made from these buds is believed to have protective properties against paralysis.
In Nagasaki prefecture’s Haiki area, there is a saying that being “blown by the tea market wind” will keep you healthy all year round. This is because every May, on a Sunday, a tea market opens in the area where people used to come to trade goods. This market was particularly important for people living on the island. Ureshino, a famous place for producing tea in Kyushu, was also known for selling newly picked tea at this market, which is how it came to be called the tea market.
The tea market was especially significant because it occurred after the 88th night, which marks the first harvest of tea. People would drink the freshly harvested tea to absorb its new and strong energy, promoting good health for the year ahead. However, if there is frost on the tea leaves before the first harvest, new buds can freeze and become damaged. In Shizuoka prefecture, people gather during this time of year to pray for a successful first harvest of tea.
The first harvest of tea holds different levels of importance for sellers, farmers, and consumers. The tea market is a place where people come together to celebrate the arrival of spring, trade goods, and enjoy the fresh and vibrant taste of the first harvest of tea.