Heron (aosagi) Egret (shirasagi)

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Heron (aosagi)

***** Location: Japan, India ...
***** Season: Various, see below
***** Category: Animal


歌川広重 - 逆井のわたし Sakai ferry (in Edo)
Hiroshige - Sakai no watashi



"blue heron", aosagi 青鷺
Ardea herodias, Ardea cinerea

Click HERE to see some photos !

There are many species in the heron family. This kigo refers to the grey heron. He is visible in my parts of Western Japan all year round. Some families breed just around the corner in a small pond. The wet rice paddies with the many frogs make for good hunting grounds of these lovely birds.

We also have the

"white heron", egret, shirasagi 白鷺

Click HERE to see some photos !

Gabi Greve



egret in winter, fuyu sagi 冬鷺 (ふゆさぎ)
nokorisagi 残り鷺(のこりさぎ)
egret left behind. egret staying behind

"Herons in the snow"
Koson Ohara (1877-1945)

koe nakuba sagi ushinawan kesa no yuki

but for their voices
the herons would disappear--
this morning's snow

Tr. Donegan

. Chiyo-ni 千代尼 .
and Ichihara Tayo-Jo 市原多代女


The Heron Maiden - Sagi Musume

Once upon a time a young man rescued a wounded heron, cared for it, and set it free. Soon after, he met a beautiful girl. She was not from his neighborhood, indeed no one knew where she came from and she was herself vague on the subject. However, she was charming, and he quickly fell in love with her.

They married and lived blissfully together for several months. She turned out to be a skillful maker of silk brocade, which he sold to support them. The only condition she asked as she gave him the brocade was that he not look at her while she was working. One day, unable to resist his curiosity, he looked into her room: of course she was the heron he had saved, and he saw her weaving at the loom in her heron form.

Sorrowfully she turned into a beautiful young woman for the last time. She told him that she had been happy as a human being but could only live with him as long as he was unaware of her nonhuman nature. Although she meant him nothing but good, she was now bound to fly away and leave him forever.
Look at the woodblock print here:
source : www.tumblr.com

The famous Kabuki actor Tamasaburo performs a dance about the "Heron's Maiden", sagi musume 鷺娘 , an old folktale of Japan.

The set is a frozen pond in the middle of Winter. The music from the geza is the classic sound effect for falling snow. The spirit of the heron appears on a platform, dressed in white, solitary and silent. This dance is a series of transformations, done through costum changes using either the bukkaeri or the hikinuki techniques to switch the roles.

The first change turns the dancer into a young maiden in love, dressed in a beautiful red kimono, who dances the joy of love in a lively atmosphere. Her love is a short one and the next section of the dance is no more about happiness but sadness and jealousy.

The dance is getting darker and the final change brings back the spirit of the heron, who frantically dances, depicting the torments of hell and pleading for pity. The highlight of this section is an ebizori pose. Then the heron maiden collapses on stage, bringing the dance to a close.

Video with Tamasaburo:

July 22, 2012
Bando nominated for treasure title
Tamasaburo Bando V, a veteran kabuki actor known for his "onnagata" female roles, has been nominated as a living national treasure by the Council for Cultural Affairs.
source : Japan Times

Worldwide use

Chesapeake Bay, USA
Chesapeake Saijiki



flight of egrets
a boy with his ear
to a telephone pole

grey sky
the cluster of white breaks up
into egrets

still morning
a cattle egret
spears a grasshopper

the egret whiter
than the clouds

Johannes Manjrekar, India

The leisurely flapping whiteness climbing higher and higher in the sky is an egret. The sunset moon is bright even though it is a long way from fullness. Crows share the sky with moon and egret, playing flighty games with the wind.

A car backfires and pigeons erupt into the sky. They circle long enough to demonstrate that they too have the gift of flight, before settling back on their perches.

evening breeze
sharp leaf shadows
on the white wall

Johannes Manjrekar
March 2012


White feathers of dead egrets
beautify the rear of the dhaki
joyous, he jumps with others.

Dhaki is the hired drummer who dances and drums during the Puja days, recently with huge white feathers decorating his back, so it looks good and people also like it but all this over the dead bodies of the poor birds.

Aju Mukhopadhyay, India


a lonely egret
past the dark clouds
hurrying home

Vidur Jyoti, India


Southern California, USA
We see them all year in the wetlands of Southern California.
Billie Dee






Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis)
The Western Reef Heron, Egretta gularis, also known as the Western Reef Egret, is a medium-sized heron. It occurs mainly on the coasts in tropical west Africa, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and east to India.
It has been recorded as a vagrant in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, an Australian territory in the eastern Indian Ocean
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

breeding time: April- July
Nesting or building a nest is starting now
The Western Reef Heron's breeding habitat is coastal wetlands.

above the mangrove
a landing call – little heron bills

after the feeding
'at ease' posture –
reef heron

preening finished-
clock hands and reef heron
bolt upright

Heike Gewi, March 2012


Things found on the way


fuyukusa mo mienu yukino no shirasagi wa
ono ga sugata ni mi o kakushikeri

No winter-grass being seen,
A white heron in a snow-field
Hides itself in
Its own form.

. Doogen Zenji 道元禅師 .

source : 冨士 翠康 先生 筆

not even winter grass
to be seen
in this snow field
a white heron hides his body
in its own form

Tr. Gabi Greve


The Heron as Divine Animal 霊獣 reijuu

. Kehi Jinguu 氣比神宮 ー 気比神宮 Tsuruga .


source : story.turuta.jp
Koimari plate with sagi heron


The Heron's Nest, a Haiku site
Managing Editor: Christopher Herold


father heron
cruising home -
sunset in the valley

He always leaves his home, the West Pond, in the morning, crossing the valley to the east.

I guess he is working the terraced rice fields over there …

High in the sky, majestic wings flapping gently, enjoying the updrift, greeting us with a friendly word (heron language, which we learned over the years)

June 22, 2004

Today, July 1, three of them where cruising the sky.

Father heron
taking the kids
for the first ride

Riding the evening up-current over the valley, showing them here and there, slowly and majestically, the bigger bird leading the two smaller ones in circles....

Gabi Greve, Okayama, Japan, 2004

morning mist --
an egret hunts
in the lotus pond

Gabi Greve, April 2010


寺の冬 鷺も餌に つかぬもの
tera no fuyu sagi mo esa ni tsukanu mono

winter in the temple -
even the heron can get
no food

I dedicate this haiku to all the water birds who lost their natural habitat thanks to the activities of the human race.

gabi Greve, January 2007
Look at the Photo HERE !


foggy slough
the invisible heron
stands on one leg

setting moon
the heron’s head snakes
beneath a wing

croaking pond
among the reeds
a heron’s deadly silence

in the shallows
a heron’s feathers blend
with the ripples

stifling heat
the only thing moving
a heron’s eye

Billie Dee


breakfast buffet
a walk in the marsh
at dawn

- Shared by Jimmy ThePeach -
Joys of Japan, 2012

photo : tri-colored heron photo - ken thomas, public domain


pink sunshine
on the evening clouds -
herons gliding home

Gabi Greve
August 2012

Related words

"Heron Plant / Egret Plant",
fringed orchid, sagisoo 鷺草
Habenaria radiata, a kind of orchid
kigo for late summer

..... tsure sagisoo 連鷺草
..... gamoo kyokuhooka 鵞毛玉鳳花

Originally a plant of the wetlands in Japan. The white flower on the straight long stalk looks like a white heron in flight, hence the name.
Birthday flower for people born on August 21.

As legend tells us, during the Period of warring states, a fair maiden from the castle of Setagaya (now in Tokyo) sent a letter for help to her dearest in the war, giving it to a white heron to carry it on. The heron was shot down, however, but where it fell to the ground, this beautiful flower started to grow. Now this flower is the mascot flower of Setagaya ward, Tokyo.

© Photo http://www.hana300.com/sagiso.html

Click HERE to see more photos !


sagisoo wa chuu mau gotoku hachi no ue

fringed orchid -
like dancing in the universe
in its flower pot

(Tr. Gabi Greve)

© BLOG: hanayomi


***** Migrating Birds (wataridori) (Japan)

***** Winter Birds, Water Birds


. Tsuwano no sagimai 津和野の鷺舞 (つわののさぎまい)
heron dance of Tsuwano .


"Crested Ibis Plant",
tokisoo   鴇草 (ときそう)
Pogonia japonica
kigo for mid-summer

Japanese Crested Ibis

is bred on Sado Island, Japan




Anonymous said...

Vaanplein at the A15 junction near Rotterdam ...

every morning
perched on the fifth lamppost
the same heron

heron on one leg ...
there are no fish to catch
on the A15

winter dawn
counting cars on the A15
a lone heron

one-legged heron
every lamppost
should have one

... on my way to work. It can be an amusing sight, rows of lampposts, each with a heron perched on top, all of them often assuming the same pose. No idea what they're looking at since I have to keep an eye on the road.

:>) Ella Wagemakers

Anonymous said...

Egrets' epitome of elegance

(C) Japan Times

Late afternoon sunlight was slanting low, glinting like liquid gold, reflecting in the narrow strip of water between broad expanses of snow.

A bugling flight of swans planed down on bowed wings, their white plumage appearing somehow creamy against the snowy backdrop as they dropped in to their roost at Osatsu-numa, here in Hokkaido.


In the foreground of the shallow lagoon at Osatsu-numa, elegant white shapes, long-legged and long-necked, were standing along the ice edge, like delicate white origami sculptures leaning into the breeze. Silent and unmoving, they seemed serious, even imperious, their pale eyes peering over long beaks.

First one, then three more craned their necks, unfurled their feathers and took flight — their white wings against the late afternoon sky resembling birds in a child's drawing — white Ms against a golden sky. They soon dropped in again, taking up identical poses along the water's edge — their necks stretched, their long, daggerlike beaks poised like athletes readying javelins.

Whereas in flight they had seemed softly white against the sky, now — standing along the interface between flowing water, ice and snow — their sharply angled poses somehow made me think of brittle glass, as ready to snap as their reflections.


While their behavior is fascinating, you may also notice at this time of the year that your local white egrets are sporting the most delicate of plumes from their chests and on their backs — like fine lace. These, too, are signs of the season — just like the appearance of the plum, peach and then cherry blossoms — and they indicate that these birds are readying themselves for an imminent breeding season.

For our southern egrets, nesting may already have begun, while for those I encountered recently in Hokkaido, nesting may be some weeks away yet. Nevertheless, the signs are here — Spring is several weeks early this year.

More is here

Gabi Greve said...

Saginomiya 鷺宮 Saginomiya district - "Shrine of the Heron -
Nakano, Saginomiya 一丁目 - 六丁目 from the first to the sixth sub-district
- - - Kami-Saginomiya 上鷺宮 一丁目 - 五丁目 from the first to the fifth sub-district

Saginomiya eki 鷺ノ宮駅 Station

Shirasagi 白鷺 Shirasagi district - "white heron" -
Nakano, Shirasagi 一丁目 - 三丁目 from the first to the third sub-district.
This district was separated from Saginomiya in 1965.

Since many herons lived here, the area was called Saginomori 鷺森 (Forest of the Heron) or Saginomiya.
In the Heian period, Minamoto no Yoriyoshi 源頼義 (988 - 1075) erected a Hachiman shrine here and many herons came, so the shrine deity was called
鷺宮大明神 Sagi no Miya Daimyojin.
The Shrine 鷺宮八幡神社 Saginomiya Hachiman Jinja
is in the South of this district, called Shirasagi 白鷺.
1 Chome-31-10 Shirasagi, Nakano
There is also a temple named in the compound:
. 白鷺山 Shirasagizan 福蔵院 Fukuzo-In 正幡寺 Shoban-Ji .
中野区白鷺1-31-5 / 1 Chome-31-5 Shirasagi, Nakano