Fruit Cricket (kanetataki)


Fruit Cricket (kanetataki)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Autumn
***** Category: Animal


Ornebius kanetataki

I would suggest the more poetical name as "prayer gong cricket", since this is where it comes from in Japanese.

Photo, and listen to its sound here:

This little insect belongs to the Koorogi 蟋蟀 family of crickets. It lives in bushes or among fallen leaves. Its body is covered with scales.

Its sound is long and monotonous like hitting a prayer gong, chin-chin, chin-chin. During prayers, it is hit with a small mallet to keep the rythm of the sutras.

Link with many more photos of crickets

The prayer gong is called shooko 鉦鼓.
The photo below shows a hanging gong (tsuri shooko 釣り鉦鼓).
It is a small gong hanging in a wooden frame. The form is like a metal plate. It is hit with two wooden drumsticks. It is used to mark a simple rythm in ritual orchestra performances too.


Photo and Text

The use of this gong is already mentioned in the Konjaku Monogatari, see below.


Priest Kuuya (Kuya Shonin) (空也上人, 903 - 972), who walked all along Japan to preach the prayers of the simple Nenbutsu (nembutsu念仏), used this kind of gong together with cymbals and other small gongs to accompany the prayer dance (yuyaku nenbutsu, see below). On the photo below you can see the priests with the gongs dancing.

The priests who soon followed in the footsteps of Kuuya where called "hitters of the gong" hachi tataki 鉢叩き or kane-uchi 鉦打ち.

... ... ... .. .. ..

Another form of this gong is the
Decorated Gong, Inai Shooko 荷鉦鼓



Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Read my story about Kuya Shonin Kuuya Shoonin, Saint Kuya 空也上人.


Yuyaku Nenbutsu 「踊躍念仏」(ゆやくねんぶつ)

"Yuyaku Nenbutsu", this is a Buddhistic event at the temple "Bukkou-ji" in Tendo.
There is in November 17 every year. They call it offically "Bukkou-ji Ikkou Syounin Kaizan-Ki Yuyaku Nenbutsu". This is very unique event because there are only about 3 types of event like this in Japan.

About the origin of "Yuyaku Nenbutsu" in Tendo, they say that it is Ikkou Syounin, who was a higher grade bonze, that brought it to the temple "Bukkou-ji". 7 or 9 people walk around the image of Buddha with ringging "syou" (a kind of Buddhistic bell in Japan) and chanting Buddhist invocation. It looks that they dance with chanting.

At first, they sit down in front of the image of Buddha and chant Buddhist invocation.
Next, they stand up except highest bonze and walk around the image of Buddha with chanting Buddhist invocation.

Then they chant with intonation and ring bells heavily more and more. It looks that they sing a song with dancing.

At last, they sit down and chant same as the first.

The beginning of "Yuyaku Nenbutsu". At first, they all sit down in front of the image of Buddha. And they chant Buddhist invocation for about 20 minutes. Then they stand up except highest bonze and walk around the image of Buddha with chanting Buddhist invocation.

People with green clothes are bonzes and people with yellow clothes are Buddhists. It is "syou" that they hold with their hands. It is made of a metal. They ring by a bar of wood.

They walk around the image of Buddha with chanting Buddhist invocation.

Then they get excited and chant with intonation and ring bells heavily more and more. It looks that they sing a song with dancing.

It takes about 1 hour for this event.

Reference to the book "Uke-tsugareru Matsuri" (local festival in Tendo).

It was published by
"The Board of Education in Tendo" and "The Old Local Country Government Office in Tendo".

Copyright(C), 1997-2005 Tetsuya TAKAHASHI


Gabi Greve about ritual gongs and drums used in Buddhist ceremonies.
Gakki, Musical Instruments (01) Big Drum Daiko 大鼓

Great link in Japanese with many photos of drums and gongs.


Konjaku Monogatari Shu: "Tales of Times Now Past"
This is a collection of tales compiled sometime at the end of the Heian Era (Beginning of the 12th century AD) and is believed to be one of the most comprehensive and excellent collections of folktales from medieval Japan available. Authors and editors: unknown. The collection includes literature from within Japan as well as translations of tales from abroad totaling over a thousand stories in all. The collection is dividied into three sections based on the country of origin: India (Tenjiku), China (Shintan) and Japan(Honcho).
Originally written in 31 volumes. The Kyoto University Library Collection site below shows images of the oldest known copy of these books (National Treasure).

Kyoto University

Konjaku Monogatarishu (Tales of times now past)


Some Japanese haiku from the

dare ga tame ni yukuru tsuki-hi zo kane tataki

for whom are they passing,
these days on end? -
prayer gong cricket
(Tr. Gabi Greve)

桂信子 Katsura Nobuko


akatsuki wa yoi yori sabishi kanetataki

in morning light
it sounds even more lonely -
the fruit cricket
(Tr. Gabi Greve)

星野立子 Hoshino Ritsuko


furusato no tsuchi no soko kara kanetataki

from the deep earth
of my homeland
prayer gong crickets
(Tr. Gabi Greve)

種田山頭火 Taneda Santoka


kane tataki hikaeme ni shite keikaku ni

fruit cricket song
very softly but
very straight
(Tr. Gabi Greve)

中嶋秀子 Nakajima Hideko



Mori Sumio 森澄雄


kids play cricket ~
a cricket jumps
for cover

Sunil Uniyal, India

Related words

***** Insects (mushi) Autumn insects, aki no mushi

***** Saijiki for Buddhist Events 仏教歳時記

***** . chanchan matsuri ちゃんちゃん祭 Chanchan festival .
with 鉦鼓 prayer gongs, at 大和神社 Oyamato Jinja

. Drums and Gongs from Japan .





sakuo said...



Narayanan Raghunathan said...

Thank you Gabi san.

camphor incense ~
a hundred gongs blaze
vedic mantrams