In April the rural fields of northern Ritto City near Yasugawa (野洲川) come alive with agricultural activity, and many flowers and insects appear. This year, 2020, the threat of the new type of coronavirus (COVID-19) has greatly reduced human activity. Japan is in a nationwide state of emergency from April 16th through May 6th, but rural life goes on and nature is taking its course as usual.
Several species of small birds appeared in Ritto City in the first week of February
Late January, from the 25th to the 29th, is the middle of the traditional Japanese cold season, Daikan (大寒), or Big Cold. This year, 2020, has been quite warm and often gloomy, with heavy clouds and light rain.
The beginning of the modern new year in January overlaps two traditional Japanese seasons: 冬至 Tōji (Winter solstice) and 小寒 Shōkan (Lesser cold). In Shiga Prefecture autumn colors have mostly disappeared. Susuki grass and shrubs along rivers have become a darker shade of brown. We can see some flowers, but most large and colorful flowers have been planted. Small winter migrant birds have appeared, adding some activity and color to the countryside and local parks.