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“It’s Bon, it’s Bon — but Only today and tomorrow. The next day we’re up in the hillsCutting grass for fodder.”

Traditional lyrics for the Bon dance from “Japanese Verse” (Penguin Books)

Kusa is a flexible term in Japanese; it may mean grass, herbs or even weeds. There are the nana kusa or seven herbs of spring and fall, and the kusa makura or pillow of grass, which is a traditional poetic reference to a journey. In this folk song from Chiba, we think of the flowery meadows of old, alive with butterflies and bees, which were cut for sweet-smelling hay.