Scarecrow (kakashi)

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Scarecrow (kakashi)

***** Location: Japan, India, worldwide
***** Season: Autumn, others see below
***** Category: Humanity


CLICK for more photos !

scarecrow, kakashi 案山子 かかし
..... kagashi 鹿驚 (かがし)
odoshi, おどし/ odose、おどせ/ odorokashi おどろかし/ toboshi とぼし/ some そめ/ kamashime 鎌しめ/ yakishime 焼しめ

bird scarers, tori odoshi 鳥威し
..... odoshi zuchi 威しづち

rattles, bird clappers, naruko 鳴子
..... hiki ita ひきいた 引板
..... naru zao 鳴る竿
rattels on strings, narukonawa 鳴子縄

With all the crows and sparrows around, we need these useful "little people" in our fields. They come in many forms nowadays, usually made from sticks, straw and old cloths. A scary face is often painted on a white sack.

Some villages have scarecrow festival and competitions,
kakashi matsuri かかし祭.
Click HERE for some photos !

In the Edo period, this word was pronounced "kagashi", meaning something that smells hineously, because the farmers used to hang up rotten fish or hides from animals. In my area, somethimes they hang up dead crows or even small wild boars to let them rot .. and smell.

Nowadays bird clappers or other devices with noise are also used. My neighbour tried 24 hour radio, but we complained about the noise. Now he has a 24 hour tape during 3 months before the apples are harvested. There is the death cry of a crow every five minutes wailing through our valley .... yaaaaaak yakyaaahkkkk ...

Gabi Greve


Yama no Kami 山の神 has only one eye
Amanomahitotsu no kami 天目一箇神(あめのまひとつのかみ)
Amatsumara 天津麻羅

This deity with one eye and one leg
comes to the fields to protect them before the harvest, now in the form of a kakashi, with one leg and one eye.
Even the modern yellow plastic balloons with one black ring, which hang in the fields, are a modern version of this deity with one eye.

. Yama no Kami 山の神 Deity of the Mountains .

Worldwide use


I don't think in India we have thought about it as a kigo word as such - because year round we do have our scarecrows on the fields.

But rice and wheat being our chief stable food - and the fact that our harvest months are mainly in December / January - when we have Sanskranti or Pongal [ Harvest Festival - Thanking the Gods especially the Sun-god - Aditya] then definitely it stands to reason that even our scarecrow is an Autumn kigo word - for the paddy fields are in full growth then!

Kala Ramesh


country walk ~
scarecrows in hiding
in the cornfield

Sunil Uniyal



Things found on the way

. Naruko 鳴子 clappers with Daruma


In many parts of Japan, wild boars are becoming a great nuisance, since the hunters are too few and old (or dead), but the boars thrive in the abandoned fields of remote villages.

Our neighbour puts out stuffed animals in winter . . .

35 wild boar guard

34 guarding the paddies

. Wild Boar (inoshishi) kigo


- Yosa Buson

akikaze no ugokashite yuku kagashi kana

The autumn wind
on its way
sets a scarecrow moving

Tr. Merwin/Lento

An autumn wind
passes by, and swaying with it
a scarecrow.

Tr. Ueda

mizu ochite hosohagi takaki kagashi kana

The water is drained,
and tall on its slender leg
a scarecrow.

kiso-dono no ta ni izen taru kagashi kana

In Lord Kiso's
rice-field, still stands
a scarecrow.

Buson uses three different Chinese characters to express the word KAKASHI (kagashi).
Tr. by Makoto Ueda

Read more about these translations here:
Compiled by Larry Bole, 2008

- about the scarecrow by
. WKD : Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .


秋までに 休すんでおくれ 案山子かな

until next autumn,
please rest in peace -
dear scarecrow

© Gabi Greve, Ohaga, March 2006


first day of fall
the scarecrow greets
another sunrise

Chen-ou Liu, Canada

December 2010


Issa has many haiku about the scarecrows.
Tr. David Lanoue

kamakura ya ima wa kagashi no yashiki mori

these days scarecrows
are the gatekeepers

This is Issa's earliest haiku that we have on the subject of scarecrows. The "gatekeepers" (yashiki mori) might also be translated, "keepers of the mansions." Kamakura is one of Japan's ancient capitals, on Sagami Bay southwest of Tokyo.

nuppori to tsukimi kao naru kagashi kana

that gentle
moon-gazing face...
a scarecrow

kagashi ni mo ushiro mukareshi sumika kana

even the scarecrow
turns his back to it...
my home

. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

tobu choo o awaremi-tamae tatsu kagashi

don't just stand there,
scarecrow, show kindness
to the passing butterfly

This humorous hokku was written while Issa was on a trip to Edo and areas around it in the second half of the 8th month (early October) of 1814. Most of the crops have been harvested, and a scarecrow stands alone in a cut dry field or rice paddy. Butterflies and other insects, however, are still busy, flying here and there all day.
The hokku uses a warm, friendly, vigorous voice and teases the scarecrow for simply standing in the field after his job of protecting the crop has finished for this year. My friend, he implies, using -tamae, in Issa's time a moderately polite but friendly imperative popular among commoners, please show compassion for the butterfly, who's still very busy. Don't scare it away -- let it rest on you. Of course Issa is talking to humans as well.
Tr. and comment : Chris Drake

fui to tatsu ore o kagashi no kawari kana

suddenly I'm
standing, mind gone --
their new scarecrow

This hokku is from the eighth month (August, the beginning of lunar autumn) in 1818, when Issa was in his hometown and various towns nearby. In the hokku Issa seems to have suddenly found himself in a standing position, but he unable to understand why he stood up. Evidently he planned to do something, but by the time he has stood up the reason is gone and his mind temporarily empty or perhaps setting off in a new direction. Issa says someone -- he doesn't say who -- will surely be able use him as a new scarecrow to replace an old one discarded in the fall. In another hokku Issa associates this kind of absent-mindedness with a flash of lightning, so perhaps his forgetting is due to his trying to keep up with the constant flow of images and moments of connection that flash through his mind, some of which take form as haikai.

Issa may be half-seriously suggesting that many of his neighbors regard him as a strange, impractical person who would be more useful to the community if he were a scarecrow. In the hokku following this one in Issa's journal a scarecrow politely tells Issa that it stands pointing in the direction of Mount Obasute (also Ubasute), literally the Mountain Where An Old Aunt Was Abandoned, which is located in Issa's home province, and in another hokku Issa writes of a worn-out scarecrow actually being left on Mount Obasute.

In the most famous legend, portrayed in the No play Obasute, a man, hearing false rumors about his old aunt, carries her to the top of the mountain and leaves her there, where she dies and becomes a stone. Basho wrote a famous hokku about the old woman on the mountain from her point of view, and Issa may believe the legend. In any case, he evokes it in order to claim that he, straw-headed, impractical, and addicted to constantly thinking about new haikai, will soon be in the same situation as the old woman, since he's clearly becoming a scarecrow to be used and then discarded by some farmer after a season in the field.

The first (1814) version of the hokku translated above contains a similar image:

uka to kite ware o kagashi no kawari kana

my mind
floating -- they'll use me
as a new scarecrow

The image may be an attempt by Issa to write about the great flow of haikai images going through his mind, a flow that became even stronger after he moved back to his hometown.

Tr. and comment : Chris Drake


cyclonic rains-
a battered scarecrow
turns to a new direction

Kala Ramesh, 2007


netko, gle tamo
sluša zričke u polju! -
staro strašilo


the fellow in the field
listening to the crickets -
an old scarecrow

- Shared by Tomislav Maretic -
Joys of Japan, September 2012

Related words

***** guardian of the fields 田守 (たもり) tamori
oda mamoru 小田守る(おだまもる)protecting the fields
inaban 稲番(いなばん)guardian for the rice fields
ta no io 田の庵(たのいお)hut for the guardian
. . . tabangoya 田番小屋(たばんごや)
kigo for all autumn


. tane kagashi 種案山子 (たねかがし)
scarecrow in the bed for seedlings

kigo for spring


kagashiage, kakashi age 案山子揚 (かがしあげ)
taking the scarecrows down

some no toshitori そめの年取り(そめのとしとり)
some is the local name in the Azumi region.

observance kigo for early winter

Usually done on the tooka 十日 tenth day of the tenth lunar month.
A custom of Nagano prefecture.
The scarecrow is taken from the field and placed in the garden of the home, harvest offerings to the god of the fields (ta no kami) are then made.

. Ta no Kami 田の神 Tanokami, God of the Fields .

. tookanya 十日夜 (とおかんや) night of the tenth   

little sparrows
come and show their faces -
taking down scarecrows

Rikuyo san 陸陽さん


***** India Saijiki

***** Farmers work in Autumn






Anonymous said...

the dragonfly
settles to sleep...
on the scarecrow

tomboo no ne-dokoro shitaru kagashi kana


by Issa, 1816

Tr. David Lanoue. http://cat.xula.edu/issa/

Anonymous said...

autumn butterfly
on the scarecrow's sleeve

aki no choo kagashi no sode ni sugari keri


by Issa, 1813

Issa is not merely a "child's poet." Many of his haiku are not suitable for children, and many parents might include this one in that group. An autumn butterfly is a soon-to-be dead butterfly.

Yet this one clings to life, as it physically clings to the sleeve of a scarecrow. But is there hope in the scene? The scarecrow, an image of a man, is actually nothing but lifeless clothes, sticks and straw. It offers no hope or real consolation to the butterfly that clings to it.

This is one of Issa's darkest portraits of life's autumn. This haiku is one of the "essential" 188 picked by the translator. back next

Tr. David Lanoue

Anonymous said...

in the wind
empty plastic bags
even the scarecrow
has lost its face

winter wind
someone put a coat
on the scarecrow

a hungry blackbird
inches closer

Ella Wagemakers

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa
- comment by Chris Drake

Perhaps Issa is also remembering that in most areas of Japan farmers worship scarecrows as the physical representatives of the local shamanic mountain god, who (like the hototogisu "nightingale") comes down from the mountain (and the other world) when the weather grows warm to invigorate and protect the paddies and fields until the crops are harvested.

By "possessing" the bodies of the scarecrows in a shamanic manner, the mountain god is able to directly watch over the crops and ensure they grow well while also protecting the fields from birds. In fact, Issa's hometown is located in an area famous for a ceremony carried out on lunar 10/10 called "sending off the scarecrows" (kakashi-age). During this ceremony farmers move their scarecrows from their paddies and fields to their own yards, where they put broad rush traveling hats on them and place offerings of rice cakes in front of them in order to send off the mountain god as the god returns to its mountain and the other world during the winter. So Issa's personification of the scarecrow as the protector of a young child in this hokku may have roots in these rural beliefs as well as in his own protective instincts.

At the same time, in Issa's age the most common rural name for wife was "mountain god" (yama no kami), an old word that perhaps reflected the predominance of women in Japanese shamanism and ancient matrilocal marriage customs. Husbands tended to explain the word as a reflection of the absolute power commoner (as opposed to ruling-class) wives had inside a household as well as the power of women's wrath, which could be as fierce as any divine retribution.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve said...

Legends with kakashi !
Kuebiko (久延毘古) is the Shinto kami ("god; deity") of knowledge and agriculture, represented in Japanese mythology as a scarecrow who cannot walk but has comprehensive awareness.


Gabi Greve said...

- Kuebiko -
... In the present day, Kuebiko is worshipped as the god of agriculture or scholarship and wisdom. The Kuebiko Shrine (Kuebiko jinja 久延彦神社), which is a subordinate shrine (massha) of Ōmiwa Shrine in Sakurai, Nara, is dedicated to this deity.

Kuebiko is an optional boss in the video game Shin Megami Tensei IV. Appearing in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office, he refuses to negotiate with humans, saying he has lived in Shinjuku long before humans arrived to 'rule' over it.

Kuebiko is the name of a 2011 agricultural art exhibit, "Because he stands all day outdoors, he knows everything", held in Kimito, Finland.

In astronomical naming conventions, 10725 Sukunabikona is an asteroid belt discovered in 1996.