Cow (ushi)

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. Legends about ox, bull, cow . . .

Cow, Bull, Ox (ushi)

***** Location: Japan, other areas
***** Season: various, see below
***** Category: Animal


The Cow, the Holy Cow in India, the ox-headed deities of various cultures .. this is a vast field, click on the photo to read more:


India's majority Hindu community reveres cowsand considers them to be "second mothers" .

About 8,000 years ago, the relationship between cows and man began with the revolutionary advent of domestication in Mesopotamia, the Indus River Valley, and Africa. There were many possible candidates for the job but only the cow fit the specific criteria humankind needed: not too flighty, breeds well in captivity, grows at a good pace, not aggressive, requires a low maintenance diet.

Our ancestors chose wisely: Cows provide just about all of our basic needs, from milk and meat to muscle.


Paint the Holy Cow.com


Now let us look at some Japanese kigo with this animal.


... ... ... Spring

Late Spring

Bullfighting, toogyuu 闘牛 Togyu
bulls fighting, ushi zumoo 牛角力
getting the bulls together, ushi awase 牛合わせ
getting the horns to clash, ushi no tsuno tsuki 牛の角突き

Different from Spain, the bulls are fighting each other, with the horns clashing and then driving the opponent out of the ring, like the SUMO wrestling of the humans. Each bull is accompanied by a farmer who sees that the animals do not really hurt each other.
Farmers keep these bulls in their home like pets and winners are named like in human SUMO wrestling, yokozuna, and so on.

Some areas in Japan are especially famous for these fights, for example Uwajima, Hachjoo-Jima, Oki no Shima. In other areas, fighting of dogs is performed instead.

These fights are held during late sprint to early summer. They still remind us of times when bulls and cows where the necessary animals to help farmers with their daily work in the fields.

. Fighting Bull Toys 闘牛玩具 .


... ... ... Summer

cooling cows and horses, gyuuba hiyasu 牛馬冷す
cooling cows, ushi hiyasu 牛冷す
cooling horses, uma hiyasu 馬冷す
cool cow, hiyashi ushi 冷やし牛
cool horse, hiyashi uma 冷やし馬

washing cows, ushi arau 牛洗う
washing horses, uma arau 馬洗う

These are all kigo for late summer, they refer to a custom during the Gion Festival on the 25th day of the 6th month according to the old Asian calendar.
Cows and horses drawing the carts for the festival were driven down to the river and washed to cool down. Their legs were cooled, then the whole body, whith the people around them taking a cooling dip too. It was a time for merrymaking after a hot day.

Farmers would also cool their animals after working during a hot summer day. So this kigo expressed the kind care of farmers toward their animals, many considered as children of the house. Lately, this custsom has become sparse, as horses and cows are replaced by maschinery.

. ushi no Gion 牛の祗園(うしのぎおん)"Gion of the Bull"  
Gion Festival
kigo for late summer


Kigo for early summer.

takaki ushi 田掻牛(たかきうし)cow/bull for light plowing
..... shiro ushi 代牛(しろうし)

Farmers work in Summer


observance kigo for late summer.

Bull Ritual, ushi kuyoo 牛供養
great field planting ritual, ootaue 大田植え

hayashida 囃田(はやしだ)"planting with music"

CLICK for more photos
hana taue 花田植 (はなたうえ) "planting in the flower season"

In some areas of Western Japan, especially Tottori, Hiroshima, Shimane and Yamaguchi it is customary to plant a big field (oota) at the beginning of the rice planting season. Cows and bulls are decorated and walk through the fields in a colorful parade, with music acompanyment. Then girls in traditional robes plant the big field.

Look at more photos here


observance kigo for late autumn

Bull Festival, ushi matsuri 牛祭
Bull Festival of Uzumasa, 太秦の牛祭 Uzumasa no ushi matsuri
Uzumasa ushimatsuri 太秦牛祭(うずまさうしまつり
God Madara, matara jin 摩多羅神

This is a Buddist festival for the Deity Matarajin. The God appears riding on the black cow. It is held in Kyoto on the 12th of October at the temple Kooryuu-Ji (Koryuji 広隆寺). The temple is also called "Uzumasa Temple" うずまさでら【太秦寺】.

Matarajin, Madarajin (Matara Shin) a protector of the Amida Sutra

and the Korean Connetion to the Hata clan 秦氏
By Gabi Greve

Copyright TANAKA MASAAKI All right reserved.

Look at more prints of festivals by Tanaka san.


. Cow nose ring ritual (hanaguri kuyoo)  
memorial ceremony for the cows 牛魂供養
third saturday in April. Okayama prefecture

Worldwide use


Cow (Pashu, Gai) ... The Holy Cow of India

Bull Fighting, jallikattu
Bull-taming at the Pongal Festival,
kigo for spring in India

CLICK for more photos

Jallikattu is a wild bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebration. Although it sounds similar to the Spanish running of the bulls, it is quite different. In Jallikattu, the bull is not killed and the 'matadors' are not supposed to use any weapon. It is held in the villages of Tamil Nadu on the eve of Mattu Pongal, one of the four days of Pongal festival (usually January 15 on the Western calendar). The one held in Alanganallur, near Madurai, is the most popular. This sport is also known as "Manju Virattu", meaning "chasing the bull".

In Jallikattu, an agitated bull is set to run in an open space. Several people, empty handed, try to tame it by controlling its horns. The winner gets a prize, which is generally tied to the horns of the bull. Only men take part in this game. Sometimes, more than one bull is loose at the same time. The village farmers take this game as a display of their masculine strength. Betting is also common during the game.

According to legend, in olden days the game was used by women to choose their husbands. Successful "matadors" were chosen as grooms.

There are several rock paintings, more than 3,500 years old, at remote Karikkiyur village in the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu that show men chasing bulls.

© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Things found on the way

The first day of doyoo in midsummer (and midwinter) is called
ushi no hi, 牛の日、the day of the ox,
as in the 12 signs of the Japanese zodiac.
Read more here: Dog Days (doyoo) in Japan


Go-Oo Hooin 牛王宝印 sacred seal of the ox treasure
goou hooin, 牛玉宝印 (くまのごおうほういん)from Kumano

熊野山宝印, 那智瀧宝印, 烏牛王 "crow and ox treasure"

. Amulets from Kumano .

The sacred seal of the ox treasure is also issued at the temple Senso-Ji at the Asakusa Kannon.

January 5 牛玉加持会
Prayer Ritual for the Deity of the Ox

source : www.senso-ji.jp/annual_event

. WKD : Asakusa Kannon 浅草観音 .


- - - - - Kobayashi Issa - - - - -

A sudden shower falls -
and naked I am riding
on a naked horse!
Tr. Lucien Stryk

Summer shower -
naked horse
naked rider.
Tr. Lucien Stryk

. . . . . .

yuudachi ya hadaka de norishi hadaka uma

a naked rider
on a naked horse

Tr. David Lanoue

(I guess the rider is wearing a fundoshi (kind of underwear) at least.)

... ... ... ... ...

Issa and the Horse Shit - 馬糞山
with a lovely haiga by Nakamura Sakuo


ushi no ko ga tabi ni tatsu nari aki no ame

the calf begins
his journey...
autumn rain

Tr. David Lanoue


on the pass two days --

ushi no ase arashi kogarashi fuki ni keri

high winds
cold gusts stripping
sweat off cows

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku was written by Issa as he made his way over high Usui Pass on the eastern border of his mountainous home province of Shinano at the end of the 10th month (November) in 1807. Earlier that year he'd returned to his hometown to negotiate with his half-brother about their father's will but had made no progress, so he decided to make another trip for the same purpose. Winter is deepening, however, and there is a windstorm (arashi) blowing in the mountain range he has to cross. Soon the storm becomes a full-blown early winter gale (kogarashi) with strong gusts, and it seems to have taken two days for him to make the crossing. The cows seem to be in a high pasture on a small plateau below the pass, and they struggle to stand in the same place without getting blown away.

When Issa reached his hometown on 11/5, his reception didn't differ much from what he experienced at the pass:

yuki no hi ya furusato-bito mo bu-ashirai

in my hometown
greeted by snow
and by people, too

Four days later he left his hometown as homeless as ever, and after visiting some local haikai poets he returned to Edo.

Chris Drake

. WKD : Usui Pass 薄井の峠 .

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .


ushikata no akiramete yuku niwaka ame

the cow leader
havs given up and walks
in the sudden rain

The cows do not care about rain and do not walk faster, so their masters have to trodd along with them when leading them to work.

. senryu, senryū 川柳 Senryu in Edo .

Related words

***** Cow (Pashu, Gai) The Holy Cow of India

*****  Running of the Bulls (El Encierro) SPAIN

***** World Kigo Database: Cowbells

***** World Kigo Database: Star Festival (Tanabata)

. Folk Toys and Talismans with the Cow .
丑 / 牛 ushi

. WASHOKU : Beef dishes of Japan

. Legends about ox, bull, cow . . .


. Lipstick made in the cold (kanbeni, ushibeni)  
and its history in Edo


- #ushi #ox #bull #cow -


Gabi Greve said...

The American Bison

. Robert Bateman .


Gabi Greve said...

chewing quietly
in the fading light
three buffalo

susan delphine delaney md
plano, texas

about the plight of the buffalo in New Mexico.


Gabi Greve said...

The wood bison is a race of the bison or buffalo, which lives in the more remote, forested areas.
Until recently, it was considered endangered; now they are being reintroduced into some wilderness areasof suitable habitat.

. Wood Bison Portrait, by Robert Bateman .



Gabi Greve said...

oi ushi mo hae harau o wa mochi [ni] keri

even the old cow
has a fly-whisking

Issa, Tr. David Lanoue

. Fly-swatter, a KIGO .


Gabi Greve said...

. The Daily Moooo .

BLOG by Amy Chavez with anything you might want to see or read about a COW ... Whow !

And a MOOOO-Bar, just in case ...


Cow Lady said...

Thanks Gabi! Also, the Moooo! Bar now has its own homepage at www.moooobar.com


Anonymous said...

meadow butterflies--
the cow also

kusa no choo ushi ni mo nagamerare ni keri


by Issa, 1806

Or: "meadow butterfly." In my first translation, the cow was "entranced," but I've followed Shinji Ogawa's advice to make the action plainer.
The butterflies are so lovely, the cow (like Issa) gazes at them.
A cow with a poet's heart!

Tr.David Lanoue

Anonymous said...

ushi moo moo moo to kiri kara detari keri


moo, moo, moo
from the mist cows

by Issa, 1816

In his translation in Haiku, R. H. Blyth imagines one cow in the scene (Tokyo: Hokuseido, 1949-1952; rpt. 1981-1982/reset paperback edition) 1.10-11.

I prefer to visualize several. In Pure Land Haiku: The Art of Priest Issa, I write, "The miracle of cows in their ponderous bodies materializing from the nothingness of autumn mist is so natural, so ordinary, and yet, when one really looks and listens ... so astounding" (Reno/Tadoshi: Buddhist Books International, 2004) 82.

Issa is punning, according to Shinji Ogawa. Moo moo, in addition to signifying the mooing of cows, is "an adjective to depict the darkness of mist or smoke." Issa's play on words gives this haiku, in Japanese, a comic tone.

As a general principle I try to avoid the past perfect reading of verbs (with keri) as much as possible, since haiku in English sounds cleaner and more immediate in present tense. "From the mist cows emerge" is an image suitable to English haiku, but the technically more accurate, "from the mist cows have emerged" lessens the immediacy of the image by adding a distance of elapsed time between the viewer and the action.

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

Anonymous said...

roadside bison
the cowboy aims
his digital camera

Deborah P. Kolodji

Anonymous said...

Milking bovine tourism in '09

Japan Times, Amy Chavez

Happy Chinese Moo Year! It's the Year of the Cow. And you know what that means: bovine tourism. No, I don't mean cows stampeding to Japan for the "Visit Japan Campaign." I'm talking about the role of cows in Japanese culture and famous places of bovine interest within Japan.

In honor of 2009 being the Year of the Cow, I feel it my duty to help raise your moo awareness. I anticipate that "bovine tourism" will be the Word of the Year.

"Mooving" right along, allow me to elaborate. One should note that: The cow is a symbol of a good harvest.

As a result, you'll find many cow effigies at shrines throughout Japan. One of the more famous shrines featuring cows is Kitano Tenmangu in Kyoto. Here, you can actually caress the cow effigies because it is believed that just touching or rubbing them will bring you good luck. If you need even more luck, perhaps you can give the cow a full massage!

Since Kitano Tenmangu shrine is dedicated to the God of Learning (Lord Sugawara no Michizane) people also pray to the cow for scholarly advancement and improved academic performance. So the Kitano Tenmangu cows (there are many), can help you pass exams, get good marks and get into a good university.

From the lowly peasant to the Ph.D. professor, the cow has got you covered. This is "cownter" to the popular belief that cows are dumb.

Mooing cows are an omen.

At one time, mooing cows were considered a bad omen in Japan. One particular story about mooing cows is remembered at the ushi matsuri (cow festival) at Dazaifutenmangu shrine in Dazaifu City, Fukuoka. This festival is to commemorate the story of Sugawara no Michizane, when he journeyed to Dazaifu City to become the provisional governor general. On his way, he stopped to visit his aunt who lived near present-day Osaka. While at her house, he heard the mooing of cows. Perhaps it was the Osaka dialect that tipped him off, but Sugawara sensed something bad was about to happen, so he left his sister's house early the next morning.

Just after he left, his sister's dwelling was ransacked by spies. Why he left his sister behind with the mooing cows is a wonder. At any rate, the cow festival is an opportunity to pray for household safety and protection. So you see that cows can protect us from "cowlamity," "cowtastrophe" and general misfortune.

Cows are protectors from illness.

Akabeko is a famous cow amulet in the Aizu region of Japan. Aka means "red" and beko is Aizu dialect for "cow." The akabeko papier-mache cow is a popular souvenir from Fukushima Prefecture. There are a few stories about how the akabeko came to be revered.

According to local folklore, in the year 807 A.D., cows were used to haul materials to construct Enzoji temple in Yanaizu. When the temple was completed, one particular red cow refused to leave the site. Legend has it that the cow even turned to stone after having given its soul to the Buddha. The townspeople, duly impressed with the cow's loyalty and no doubt its ability to turn itself to stone, made small effigies of the cow, painted them red, and gave them to children as toys. Years later, when a bout of smallpox swept the country, the children who had these akabeko toys didn't get smallpox.

From then on, the akabeko toys were also made as amulets to ward off illness. Get an akabeko charm and "cownt" your blessings that you won't get ill.

Cows are a symbol of enlightenment.

With all the good things the cow has brought to Japanese culture, it is no wonder the cow is thought to be a symbol of enlightenment. Perhaps this is why the cow is the preferred mode of transportation for the gods. Deities such as Daiitoku Myoo, one of the Five Gods of Wisdom, is often seen riding a white cow. Daijizaiten is also seen atop a dark blue buffalo. The cow as a symbol of enlightenment ensures that enlightenment is a truly spiritual "encownter."

For the bovine tourist, a little cow worship goes a long way.

The Japan Times (C) All rights reserved

Kenya Saijiki said...

fighting bulls --
a crowd of people forms
a ring around them

Barrack Elungata, Kenya

Gabi Greve said...

Akabeko, aka beko as symbol of good luck, engimono


Gabi Greve said...

TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM -- You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

FRENCH CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon(tm) and market them world-wide.

A GERMAN CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

A BRITISH CORPORATION -- You have two cows. Both are mad.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION -- You have two cows, but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch.

A RUSSIAN CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

A SWISS CORPORATION -- You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.

A HINDU CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You worship them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.!

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho and Cow Hokku


kono ume ni / ushi mo hatsune to / naki tsu beshi

- - - - -

sato no ko yo / ume orinokose / ushi no muchi

- - - - -

牛部屋に蚊の声暗き残暑かな ushi-beya ni / ka no koe kuraki / zansho kana


Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

ushibeya ni ka no koe kuraki zanshoo kana

In a cowshed,
mosquitoes buzzing darkly -
lingering summer heat

Matsuo Basho
(Tr. Shirane)

Written in Genroku 4, seventh lunar month.

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho

sato no ko yo ume orinokose ushi no muchi

hey village kids,
leave some plum branches:
ox whips

Tr. Barnhill

Gabi Greve - facebook said...

manekineko as a cow
on my facebook

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Nagano 下条村 Shimojo

ushigatsume no ushi-ishi 牛ヶ爪の牛石 stone with bull hoof imprints

Once a wicked villager did not tell the proper road to a blind Sennin. He wandered around and finally died with his bull beside him.
His resentment against the wicked villager turned into the imprints of the bull in the stone and now people in this area learned the lesson and never deceive people.

link with photos

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Tokyo Ota ward - legends

ushi - 牛に生まれ変わる僧侶 a priest who was reborn a bull
The townspeople near Ota ward believe that a priest had been reborn as a bull.
During the end of the Meiji period, around 1910, the priest of a temple had died. The representative of the parishioners carved a letter into the bone of the body before the burial.
A while later they found a bull with the letters on his body.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Legends about 牛頭天王 Gozu Tenno

Gabi Greve said...

ushiishi 牛石と伝説 Legends about the "bull rock"
ushi-ishi / gyuu-ishi ぎゅういし / gyuuseki


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