Turtle (kame)


Turtle, turtoise, tortoise (kame)

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


A turtle looking in all 8 directions 八方睨みの亀

turtle making a sound, crying, turtle chirps
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.


sea turtle, umigame 海亀 (うみがめ)
kigo for mid-summer
red sea turtle, akaumigame 赤海亀(あかうみがめ)
blue sea turtle, aoumigame 青海亀(あおうみがめ)
..... shoogakuboo 正覚坊(しょうがくぼう)
Fam. Cheloniidae. Meeresschildkröte

CLICK for more TAIMAI photos
hawksbill turtle, taimai 玳瑁(たいまい)
Eretmochelys imbricata. Karettschildkröte

turtle babies, kame no ko 亀の子 (かめのこ)
kigo for mid-summer
pond turtle, zenigame 銭亀(ぜにがめ)
(children of the Ishigame, Japanese pond turtle) Fam. Mauremys.
Sumpfschildkröte; Schildkrötenbaby


hanachigame 放ち亀(はなちがめ) setting a turtle free
kigo for mid-autumn

Part of the Buddhist rituals to gain good points in the next life. Many kinds of small animals are set free, birds to fly or fish and turtles in the water.

. hanashi kame uri 放し亀売り
vendors of turtles to be set free in Edo .


In Chinese culture, especially under the influence of Taoism the turtoise is the symbol of heaven and earth, its shell compared to the vaulted heaven and the underside to the flat disc of the earth. The tortoise was the hero of many ancient legends. It helped the First Chinese Emperor to tame the Yellow River, so Shang-di rewarded the animal with a lifespan of Ten Thousand Years. Thus the turtoise became a symbol for Long Life.

It also stands for immutability and steadfastness. We often see stone grave steles on a stone tortoise or reliquiaries standing on it.
The tortoise is also regarded as an immortal creature. As there are no male tortoise - as the ancient believed - the female had to mate with a snake. Thus the turtoise embracing a snake became the protector symbol of the north, but since the word "tortoise" was taboo in Chinese, it was referred to as the "dark warrior" (genbu 玄武 ) and finally became one of the protector gods of the four areas, Zhenwu in Chinese Taoism.

Read more of my story HERE
Turtle, Crane and Daruma san

© 色いろ遊び


Worldwide use


African Helmeted turtle [Pelomedusa subrufa]
kigo for spring

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P.s. subrufa nest once per year. A nest is dug to a depth of approximately 15 cm and the eggs deposited. Eggs are white/grayish and covered with a clear slime. They measure 28-31 mm x 15-18 mm and approximately 4-6 grams. Fertile eggs develop a white spot or area on top and hatching occurs in 65-68 days.
© www.pelomedusa.com

In warm sand
a case for fire ants..
turtle's nest

Heike Gewi, Yemen, May 2008
WKD Yemen Saijiki

Things found on the way

Some Cosmic Fun
A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said:
"What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady.
"But it's turtles all the way down!"

Russell comments:
If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument. It is exactly of the same nature as the Hindu's view, that the world rested upon an elephant and the elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said,
"How about the tortoise?"
the Indian said, "Suppose we change the subject."

... the story is patently wise, teaching us that we will never get to the bottom of things.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


見立浦島 Young Woman Riding a Turtle
(Parody of the Story of Urashima Tarô)
Suzuki Harunobu (1725–1770)

. Urashima Taro 浦島太郎 .


African Spurred Tortoise
(Geochelone sulcata)
“crying tortoise”La tortue qui pleure
To protect his eyes against the sand and the dry climate, it produces tears and the eyes are often wet.

reference : “crying tortoise"


. tsurushibina つるし雛 / 吊るし雛 small hanging hina dolls .

With the wish for a long life of 1000 years, like the mythical turtle.


. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 .

hoshi matsu ya kame mo suzushii ushirotsuki

they wait for the stars --
turtle's backside, too
looking cool

Tr. Chris Drake

Issa's diary says this hokku was written on the same day on which Issa went to the monthly haikai meeting led by a leading Edo poet, Suzuki Michihiko (1757-1819), which was held on the 6th of every month. It was a gathering Issa often joined. This particular meeting was on the 6th of the 7th month (July 31, 1805), and Issa wrote the hokku there or soon after. Issa linked verses a few times with Michihiko, but I couldn't find any information about whether renku were written at this meeting in addition to hokku.

The hokku is about the night of 7/7, the Tanabata star festival. Many people are looking up at the sky, waiting for the Milky Way to rise, since according to a legend that goes back to China, the weaving woman star (Vega) and the oxherd star (Altair) love each other madly but are able to meet only one night a year -- on 7/7, and only if there are no clouds in the sky. If the sky is clear, the weaving woman crosses the Milky Way on a bridge formed by magpies and meets her lover. Many decorations are set up, including ikebana and tall cut bamboo trees with poems and decorations hanging from their limbs. In Issa's time most people stayed up late to eat, drink, and watch the stars, and many stayed up the whole night, as they did on the night of the harvest moon.

In Issa's vision a group of people stand watching the sky with their back to him, and their total absorption in the Milky Way makes them -- and Issa watching them -- feel cool, as if they were momentarily fused with the cool sky, even though the night must be quite hot. It's the feeling of coolness that counts, not the objective temperature. The coolness is so strong at that moment that even a turtle, who seems to be looking up at the same part of the night horizon as the humans, looks cool. Turtles don't wear thin robes the way humans do in summer, yet something about the turtle's stance suggests that it, too, influenced by the night sky, feels cool. This synesthetic hokku seems to be about the power of feelings and the sense of sight to overlap with and influence tactile sensations as well as about the relation of humans and other animals to the cosmos. That it is backsides which strike Issa as being so cool suggests that the absence of individual faces may increase the sensation of non-duality with the universe. Often masks in No drama have a similar effect.

Chris Drake

Turtles enjoying Tanabata

. WKD : Star Festival (Tanabata 七夕).


kame naku ya otoko wa mukuchi narubeshi to 

the turtle calls ...
a man should better not
talk too much

Tanaka Hiroaki 田中裕明 (1959 - 2004)



haijin no shikiri no kame o nakase keri

ever so often
haiku poets make
the turtle cry

Yokoi Haruka 横井遥 (born 1959 in Nagasaki)


the turtle is slow;
i capture it with much ease
time to eat it now

a hardshell tortoise.
is there any other kind?
rabbit lost the race

© kpaul.mallasch


spring moonrise
sea turtles hatch and struggle
toward the waves

Jim Grossmann

baby sea turtles
serenaded on the beach...
me and my guitar

Tom Conally

source : Happy Haiku Forum .

Related words

***** World Turtle Day
May 23

***** box turtles mating
kigo for spring

. box turtles (Terrapene) .





Anonymous said...

On the summer stream
There are three sets of ripples
And an empty log.

Daniel Snyder

Anonymous said...

short summer night--
in the field turtles

mijika yo no hatake ni kame no asobi kana


by Issa, 1825

Tr. David Lanoue

Gabi Greve : Sanada cord said...

Sanada himo musubeba kame no naki ni keri

when I tie up
the Sanada cord, a turtle
starts crying

Yamao Tamamo 山尾玉藻

Gabi Greve said...

minogame 蓑亀minokame,
"turtle with a raincoat" art motives