ほととぎす【不如帰, 杜鵑, 子規, 時鳥, 杜宇, 蜀魂, 霍公鳥, 沓手鳥, 田鵑】

1. Little cuckoo (Cuculus poliocephalus)
2. Toad lily (Tricyrtis hirta)
3. A haiku magazine
4. A personality test


1. Little cuckoo (Cuculus poliocephalus)

■ ホトトギス is a song bird from the cuckoo family with conspicuous black-and-white stripes on the chest. It migrates to Japan around May and leaves in autumn to overwinter in the South or Southeast Asia.

□ Like other cuckoos, it lays eggs in nests of other species, notably of ウグイス (Cettia diphone, bush warbler), another much-loved Japanese song bird. The distinctive song of ホトトギス is often described as sounding like the Japanese phrase 「てっぺんかけたか」 or, more recently, 「特許許可局(とっきょきょかきょく)」.

Regarded as a herald of summer since the time of 万葉集, ホトトギス appears in many Japanese myths and legends as well as in numerous 短歌 and 俳句, most famous of which is perhaps this one by 後徳大寺左大臣藤原実定 (1139-1191), which was included in 小倉百人一首:

  ほととぎす鳴きつるかたを眺むればただ有明の月ぞのこれる

See this site for other common names given to ホトトギス.

See this site for a drawing and this site for a photograph. The background sound for this page is the call of the bird.


2. 杜鵑草・油点草 Toad lily (Tricyrtis hirta)

■ A shade-loving perennial from the Japanese mountains, the toad lily is called ホトトギス in Japanese because of the purple speckles on its petals that resemble the stripe patterns on the chest of the little cuckoo.

See this page for photographs of several varieties.


3. A haiku magazine

■ A haiku magazine founded by 正岡子規(まさおかしき) in 1897 and run by 高浜虚子(たかはまきょし). It continues to be published.

□ For a period, ホトトギス also welcomed contributions from novel writers, and 我輩(わがはい)は猫(ねこ)である (translated as I Am a Cat) by 夏目漱石(なつめそうせき) first appeared in this magazine.


4. A personality test

■ See this jeKai entry.


This entry was created by Yuno Hanlon.


Created 2000-08-01. Links to photos and sounds added by YG 2000-08-19.


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