Tortoise sound?

A few weeks ago it sprouted crimson, then buds  grew day after day in the sun – the peony below…

to a foolish question

thinking over the right answer:

tortoise cries

Do tortoises cry? The saijiki almanac says that, although in truth they don’t, Tame-ie (1198-1275) compelled it to do so in one of his waka. The ‘tortoise cries’ kigo implies spring calm.

9 Responses to “Tortoise sound?”

  1. Dear Hisashi Miyazaki,

    There is the African Spurred Tortoise which is also called the “crying tortoise”. It “cries” to protect his eyes against the sand and the dry climate, so the eyes are often wet.

    all my best,


  2. A good topic for April Fools’ Day! … And yet I believe you’re being quite sincere?

  3. Yes and no. It is called the crying tortoise, at least in Senegal, because its eyes are always exuding tears to keep the dust and sand away. ;-)

    all my best,



  4. Hisashi Miyazaki Says:

    Exactly, I might be April-foolish.
    What Alan says is that his African tortoise sheds tears for its eyes to be protected from drying and what I said, it produces a sound. Actually, there is another explanation that it makes a voice when breathing or calling for a female. Both are doubtful, though. In the saijiki, even a mud snail cries (sounds)! What calm days in spring haiku! Thanks Alan for African tortoise information. It is a new topic for me to discuss with my haiku friends about the kigo and English/Japanese languages. Much appreciated.

  5. Hello Hisashi!

    How are you, my haiku friend?

    I believe our English language kiyose ( I can only find two based in Japanese heritage) may only mention worms crying, turtles singing,
    but never a tortoise crying!

    Might you mean an utterance vs. shedding a tear?

    I like your poem very much for its unconventional narrative.

  6. In Japanese, I think ‘tortoises’ and ‘turtles’ are the same thing.

  7. Hisashi Miyazaki Says:

    Hi, Willie.
    As Tito mentions, we usually don’t distinguish tortoise and turtle: we call them “kame”. Acoording to my J/E & E/J dictionaries, the former lives in freshwater and the latter, in seawater. As the former is quite popular to us in ponds and streams, the kigo might mean it. It doen’t actually make a sound but it does in haiku thanks to Tame-ie! ‘Might you mean an utterance vs. shedding a tear?’ Yes, it utters in Japanese haiku! Thank you for your comment.

  8. turtle making a sound, crying
    kame naku 亀鳴く (かめなく)
    kigo for all spring

    “turtle reciting the sutras”
    kame no kankin 亀の看経(かめのかんきん)
    Their sounds remind the Japanese of monks reciting the morning sutras.


  9. Hisashi Miyazaki Says:

    Thanks, Gabi.
    Kame no kankin – あたたかに亀看経す馬の塚 角川源義(atataka ni/ kame kankin su/ uma no tsuka, by Kadokawa Genyoshi) Literally, “warmly (calmly)/ a tortoise recites the sutra:/ the horses’ (grave) mound.
    This time, regretting the spring end, I have tried to let a mud snail cry (sing, utter, recite – what can I say? I can hear this kigo voice only in mind) in the new post today. Tomorrow is the beginning of summer (立夏). hisashi

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