Turtle (kame)

. kame 亀と伝説 Legends about turtles .
- kenmun - see below

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.

. shinshi 神使 the divine messenger .
kame 亀 turtle - at Matsunoo Taisha 松尾大社


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

CLICK for more photos

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) .


. Japanese Legends - 伝説 民話 昔話 – ABC-List .


千葉県 Chiba 銚子市 Choshi

If the fishermen take good care of the sea turtles, they will have a good fishing harvest.

umigame no tatari ウミガメの祟り curse of the Sea Turtle
Toward the end of the Meiji period, around 1912, some workers on a maschine boat on the Tonegawa caught a 海がめ sea turtle and ate it.
That day when they finished work and wanted to go back to the harbour, the sea suddenly turned wild and the boat capsized. Only one of the workers made it back to the shore alive.
Others found him mumbeling "this turtle, this huge sea turtle . . . " and then he breathed his last too.
The fishermen of Choshi say this was the curse of the sea turtle and have great respect for this animal.
. Legends from river Tonegawa 利根川 .

At the shrine 御嶽神社 Mitake Jinja の海亀墓石塔にまつわる伝承。S42年,イワシ漁の最中にウミガメを巻き込んで殺してしまった。その後一ヶ月ほどは漁に出ても網に入ったイワシが皆出て行ってしまうことが続いたが,石塔を建立して供養すると漁ができるようになった。

香川県 Kagawa 三豊郡 Mitoyo district 詫間町 Takumacho


兵庫県 Hyogo, 明石市 Akashi city

. The grain wholesaler named 龜屋 Kameya .

鹿児島県 Kagoshima

kenmun ケンムン hinotoragami ヒノトラガミ
Kenmun is a kind of sea turtle Yokai, friend of Kappa san.

Kenmun live near アコウの木 / ガジュマルの木 the banyan trees . They like Sumo wrestling and often come to lure farmers at the beach, who are making salt.
Kenmun also does Sumo wrestling with Yamanokami.

ケンムン at Isen village 伊仙町(徳之島 Tokunoshima)
The Kenmun is related to legends about Yamanokami.
A man was walking in the evening when suddenly a kind of fireball came rolling down, with stones and all. He fled to his home as fast as he could.
There he hung up some amulets, but the flames kept lurking around his house all night.
Next day he killed a pig and hung the legs up. This helped him not to loose his own light.

. Yama no Kami 山の神 God of the Mountain .

kenmun ケンムン / けんもん kenmon

If someone is sleeping in 砂糖小屋 the hut of the sugar makers and a Kenmun comes in, it is best to kick him out.
The Kenmun walks around the sugar pot and tries to lick some. If he does, the sugar will not get hard any more.
The Kenmun often sits in a corner so as not to disturb the sugar makers. Eventually the Kenmun will leave. Sometimes he leaves a blue fire fart when he goes.
Once a man was staying in the hut for the sugar makers when a Kenmun came in and asked:
"What are you most afraid of?" The man answered "Oh, I am afraid of money. And you?"
"I am afraid of octopus" said the Kenmun. The next day when the Kenmun came in the worker threw an octopus at him and he fled.
Next morning there was a lot of money at the door . . .
If someone tries to make 黒砂糖 brown sugar and does not succeed, they say it is the mischief of Kenmun.
The Kenmun was later celebrated as a deity at 井之川岳 Mount Inokawadake (645 m) and has never been seen again.
- - - - -
Kagoshima 大島郡 Oshima district 瀬戸内町 Setouchi

kenmun ケンムン and hi no tama 火の玉 fire ball

kenmun from Uken village 大島郡 字検村
Once a woman was about to give birth. Her husband went to ガジュマルの木 a Gajumaru tree where he saw a Kenmun with two children. They let him know that his child would die when it was 19 years old.

kenmun 水蝹 water spirit
Kenmun are hairy water and tree spirits from the Amami islands in southern Japan. ...
- source : yokai.com/kenmun... -


- reference : Nichibun Yokai Database -


. kame 亀と伝説 Legends about turtles .

#umigame #turtle #seaturtle #kanmun #kenmun #kenmon #kanmon


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


Gabi Greve said...

Matsue Temple Gessho-ji
Tortoise is a symbol of longevity. It is said that if you rub its head, you can live a long life!

This statue is called Juzohi-no-Okame (寿蔵碑の大亀), or ‘Longevity Monument of the Giant Tortoise’.
The giant tortoise stands 5 meters and 10cm tall.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Okinawa

Okinawa 沖縄県 ..................

kame to sen 亀,鱣 (hamo 鱧 pike conger eel)
Once a man named 蔡譲 was on his way to China, when a typhoon came and he fell over board.
Suddenly one 亀 turtle and two 鱣 sea snakes came and helped him.
It became custom in his family never to eat the meat of a turtle or pike conger eel after that.

Gabi Greve said...

Kameido choo 亀戸町 Kemeido, Kame-Ido "Turtle Well"

Kōtō 江東区 Kōtō-ku, Koto, "East of River"

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from river Tonegawa
kame no tatari カメのたたり the curse of the turtle


Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Hyogo
Once a kokumotsu tonya 穀物問屋 grain Tonya named 龜屋 Kameya became an eye illness and finally went blind. The man had heard about 人丸塚 the mound Hitomaruzuka in Akashi and went there. On that night he had a strange dream: A large turtle came, put him on her back and carried him to the side of 清水 Shimizu "clear water".
When he went there, he found a clear spring, washed his eyes with the water and could see again.

Gabi Greve said...

suppon スッポン soft-shelled turtle

15 legends to explore