Oak trees Quercus

[ . BACK to Worldkigo . TOP . ]

Oak Trees / Quercus

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


The family Fagaceae, or beech family,
comprises about 900 species of both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs, which are characterized by alternate simple leaves with pinnate venation, unisexual flowers in the form of catkins, and fruit in the form of cup-like (cupule) nuts.
The best-known group of this family is the oaks, genus Quercus, the fruit of which is a non-valved nut (usually containing one seed) called an acorn.

Castanea - Chestnuts
Chrysolepis - Golden chinkapin
Fagus - Beeches
Lithocarpus - Stone oaks
Quercus - Oaks

An Oak is a tree or shrub
in the genus Quercus, of which about 600 species exist on earth.
The flowers are catkins, produced in spring. The fruit is a nut called an acorn, borne in a cup-like structure known as a cupule; each acorn contains one seed (rarely two or three) and takes 6–18 months to mature, depending on species.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Let us look at some types of Japanese oaks (kashi 樫) and their kigo.

The most important varieties:

akagashi アカガシ (赤樫 別名:oogashi, オオガシ、oobagashi オオバガシ 学名:Quercus acuta)
arakashi アラカシ Quercus glauca
hanagakashi ハナガカシ Quercus hondae
ichiigashi イチイガシ (一位樫 学名:Quercus gilva )
kashi 樫 ... Quercus
kunugi 櫟 Quercus acutissima
shikubanegashi ツクバネガシ (衝羽根樫  学名:Quercus sessilifolia)
shirakashi シラカシ (白樫・白橿 学名:Quercus myrsinifolia )
ubamegashi ウバメガシ (姥目樫 別名:イマメガシ・ウマメガシ  学名:Quercus phillyraeoides)
urajirogashi ウラジロガシ (裏白樫  学名:Quercus salicina)


kigo for late spring

kashi no hana 樫の花 (かしのはな) Kashi-oak tree blossoms

kashi no ki no hana ni kamawanu sugata kana

the Kashi oak
seems not to care about
the cherry blossoms . . .

Tr. Gabi Greve

The cut marker KANA is at the end of line 3.
Written in 1685, when Basho visited Mitsui Shuufuu 三井秋風 Shufu at Narumi.
(Shufu - 1646 - 1717) A rich kimono merchant and haikai poet from Kyoto.

Basho compares the Kashi oak to his independent-minded host (or rather, vice-versa).
Basho often uses the nature around him to imply a human condition also just now around him.

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .
Nozarashi Kiko

. Echigoya 越後屋 and Mitsui 三井 .


. ichi-i no hana  一位の花 いちいのはな flower of the yew tree
Taxus cuspida. ichii


kigo for early summer

kashi wakaba 樫若葉 (かしわかば) young leaves of the Kashi-oak
..... kashi shigeru 樫茂る(かししげる)

kunugi no hana 櫟の花 (くぬぎのはな) flowers of the Kunugi-oak
..... tsurubami 橡(つるばみ)、ichii, ichi-i いちい
donguri no ki 団栗の木(どんぐりのき) "acorn tree)

shii wakaba 椎若葉 (しいわかば) young leaves of the Shii-oak
shii ochiba 椎落葉(しいおちば)fallen leaves of the Shii-oak
Castanopsis cuspidata. pasania. Shii-Castanopsis


shii no hana 椎の花 (しいのはな) flowers of the Shii-oak
..... shihi no hana しひのはな
..... hana shii 花椎
kigo for mid-summer

. . . CLICK here for Photos !


kigo for mid-autumn

tsukubane 衝羽根 (つくばね) Tsukubane-oak
..... tsukubane 突羽根(つくばね)
kogi no ko 胡鬼の子(こぎのこ)
hago no ki 羽子の木(はごのき)
Quercus sessilifolia


kigo for late autumn

donguri 団栗 (どんぐり) acorn (from an oak tree)
..... kunugi no mi 櫟の実(くぬぎのみ)acorns from the Kunugi-oak tree
Quercus acutissima, Spitzeiche

dongurigoma 、団栗独楽(どんぐりごま)top made from an acorn
donguri mochi 団栗餅(どんぐりもち) rice cake with acorns


. ichi-i no mi 一位の実 (いちいのみ)
berry of the yew tree

Taxus cuspida. ichii

kashi no mi 樫の実 (かしのみ) acorn
from the evergreen Kashi-oak
..... 橿の実(かしのみ)

mochi no mi 黐の実 (もちのみ) ilex fruit
mochi no ki no mi もちの木の実(もちのきのみ)
toosei 冬青(とうせい)"winter green"
Quercus ilex. Steineiche

nara no mi なら (楢 ) の実 Japanese oak acorn
Quercus serrata / Quercus crispula

. nara momiji 楢紅葉(ならもみじ)Nara red autumn leaves .
Quercus serrata
- - - - - and
hahaso momiji 柞紅葉 Japanese Emperor Oak momiji
Quercus dentata

shii no mi 椎の実 (しいのみ) Shii-oak acorns
..... ochi shii 落椎(おちしい)fallen acorns
..... shii hirou 椎拾う(しいひろう)collecting acorns
pasania; chinquapin
Shii-Castanopsis, Castanopsis cuspidata


kigo for all winter

fuyu kashiwa 冬柏 (ふゆかしわ) Kashiwa-oak in winter
kashiwa no kareha 柏の枯葉(かしわのかれは)dried leaves of Kashiwa
karekashiwa 枯柏(かれかしわ) withered kashiwa
Quercus dentata

kunugi karu 櫟枯る(くぬぎかる) withering Kunugi-oak

- - - - -

kogarashi ya iwashi o kurumu kashiwa no ha

winter windstorm
wraps a big oak leaf
around a sardine

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from the end of the seventh month (early September) in 1823. Japanese oak leaves fall off not in early winter but in summer, when new green leaves appear; a "winter oak" keeps its brown leaves on its branches, and the leaves make uncanny sounds in the wind while the limbs of other deciduous trees are bare. Because oaks normally keep their fairly large leaves in winter, they were widely believed to be the trees in which the tree-leaf protector god (hamori no kami 葉守の神) stayed during the winter months. The gale in the hokku, however, is so strong it rips even oak leaves off their limbs many months before they are ready to fall.

When Issa writes a hokku in his diary that evokes a season different from the season in which he is writing, he usually writes the character representing the season of the hokku above the hokku, but there is no such note above this hokku, so it can be taken either as an autumn or a winter hokku. A kogarashi, according to a popular folk etymology, is literally a "tree-withering blast" or cold, dry gale-force windstorm from the north or northwest, can be either a late autumn or an early winter image in both traditional waka poetry and in premodern haikai, though most contemporary haiku saijiki editors usually list it only as a winter image. These powerful windstorms usually begin to blow in late October and continue into December or even later.

Issa's diary for 1823, for example, has the first big windstorm taking place late in lunar autumn, on 9/24. A dried sardine, perhaps hanging with several others from a beam in the kitchen or a hallway, seems to have been blown onto the ground, and the wind pushes the sardine against a wall or fence and presses a large oak leaf around it.

Earlier, in the twelfth month (January) of 1818, Issa wrote a similar hokku, one that deals with ordinary fallen leaves:

kogarashi ya ko no ha ni kurumu shiozakana

withering winter wind
wraps a salted fish
in a dry leaf

Perhaps Issa rewrote it because he wanted to use the stronger image of the wind blowing down an oak leaf. The word order in the later hokku is also smoother.

Chris Drake

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 Issa in Edo .

. Withering Wind, Cold Gale (kogarashi 木枯らし) .

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Nuts from the Forest

Buna no mi ぶなのみ (欅/椈 の実)beechnut
Chestnut, sweet chestnut (kuri 栗)
Kurumi くるみ (胡桃) walnuts
Nara no mi なら (楢 ) の実 Japanese oak acorns
Tochi とち (橡/栃/杼) horse chestnut
. Food from the Bountiful Woods
(Mori no Megumi)


Karatsu no koma 唐津の独楽 spinning tops from Karatsu
made from strong local wood マテバシイ mateba shii oak, Pasania edulis Makino.


Kashiwa no Kami カシワの神 Deity of the Kashiwa-Oak
Geist und Beschützer der Eichen.

In the 吉城郡 Yoshiki district of Gifu, the deity カシワの神 Kashiwa no Kami, the Deity of Oak Trees, is venerated everywhere. He is said to use a walking stick and eat rice. He can also suppress an earthquake.

. jishin 地震 Legends about Earthquakes .


shii 椎 the Shii-oak, Pasania
Castanopsis cuspidata. pasania. Shii-Castanopsis

MORE haiku about this tree and its blossoms
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

mazu tanomu shii no ki mo ari natsu kodachi

First of all, my dear
Dependable tree of shii stands here
In the summer grove

Tr. Oseko

Summer grove –
pasania tree and I
find shelter.

Tr. Stryk

My temporary shelter,
a pasania tree is here, too,
in the summer grove.

Tr. Ueda

Written in 1690, at the end of Genju-An no Ki records (The Hu. Basho stayed with Suganuma Kyokusei 菅沼曲翠 曲水 of the Zeze domaine, after coming back from his long trip, Oku no Hosomichi.
Basho visited there from April 1690 till July 23.

While Basho stayed at this Hermitage, he wrote
" ... I wondered if I would become a Buddhist priest, but I rather wanted to suffer the winds of journey without a definite destination to enjoy nature with flowers, birds, winds and the moon . . . ."
Tr. Oseko

In this hut where I live as a hermit, as a passing traveler, there is no need to accumulate household possessions. ... But I should not have it though from what I have said that I am devoted to solitude and seek only to hide my traces in the wilderness. Rather, I a m like a sick man weary of people, or someone who is tired of the world.. What is there to say? ...
I labor without results, am worn of spirit and wrinkled of brow. Now, when autumn is half over, and every morning and each evening brings changes to the scene, I wonder if that is not what is meant by dwelling in unreality.
And here too I end my words.

Among these summer trees,
a pasania --
something to count on.

source : www.hermitary.com

tanomu 頼む to ask a person to do something, to depend on, to count on

Basho wrote at Genju-An
quote from Peipei-Qiu
I don’t force myself to love idleness and solitude (kanjaku 閑寂), yet I am like a sick man who is weary of people, or a person who is tired of the world. How is it so? I have not led a clerical life, nor have I engaged in worldly undertakings; I am neither benevolent nor righteous. Ever since I was very young I have liked my eccentric ways, and once I made them the source of a livelihood, only temporarily I thought, I couldn’t put anything else in my mind and, incapable and talentless as I was, I have been bound to this single line of poetry.

In the poetry of Saigyô and Sôgi, the painting of Sesshû, and the tea of Rikyû, despite the differences of their talents, the fundamental principle is one. Without knowing, the autumn has half passed as I was pressing my back, rubbing my belly, and making a wry face. Human life is also like this, short as a brief dream. Again, I feel this must be what is meant by dwelling in unreality.

Let me stay for now
where there is a pasania tree—
the summer grove.

mazu tanomu/shiinoki mo ari/natsu kodachi

It doesn’t look like
they will die in a short time—
the sounds of cicadas.

yagate shinu/keshiki mo miezu/semi no koe

source : Basho-and-the-Dao - Peipei-Qiu

. - Genjuuan Ki 幻住庵記 Genju-an Records - .
the Hut of the Phantom Dwelling
Unreal Hut
Hut of the Unreal Dwelling


fallen oak leaf ...
one by one my friends
reach half a century

. . . . .

In the square where we live, nine oak trees add presénce. It is a joy to watch them grow new leaves in spring and then to watch these leaves fall in autumn.
Right now, the branches are draped with snow.

oak trees
my twenty-two years
as an immigrant

Ella Wagemakers
Philippines, Netherlands


Crescent moon at dusk

crescent moon --
snow-covered oak trees
float in the fog

Fog covering the field

Haiku and Photos
© Isabelle Prondzynski, Ireland
December 2010

Related words

***** Berries and related kigo

. TREES as kigo .


kunugi 櫟 / クヌギ 伝説 Quercus acutissima oak legends

. kunuki Daruma, ku nuki Daruma 苦抜き達磨
Daruma taking away the pain .

kunugi 櫟 Quercus acutissima - a pun with 苦抜き ku nuki, ku o nuku.

In 茨城県 Ibaraki they think the roots of paulownia 桐の木の根 and kunugi and live squid are sending off light when placed in a dark spot. This light is then able to bewitch people.
In 真壁町 Makabe village they believe the tree likes to hear the low, painful voice of sick people and therefore never plant it in their garden.

In 愛媛県 Ehime there is a custom called トンドさん Tondo san. On the 15th day of the first lunar month people cut kunugi branches and build a small square hat. Inside they place diapers and then roll diapers all around the walls, like flags. Then the whole hut is burend down and the ashes taken to sea, mixed with sea water and then taken home to place at the four corners of the house.
This way bad luck and disaster can be avoided for the coming year.

. Legends about trees - - 木と伝説 .

- reference : nichibun.ac.jp yokai database -





Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho -

In that winter, when the homeless Basho returned from a stay in Kai Province, his friends and disciples again gathered together and presented him with a new Basho Hut. He was pleased, but it was not enough to do away with his melancholy.
His poem on entering the new hut was:

arare kiku ya kono mi wa moto no furugashiwa

The sound of hail -
I am the same as before
Like that aging oak.

. Tr. Makoto Ueda -
The master haiku Poet Matsuo Basho .

Gabi Greve - WKD said...

shinkyoo ni kashi no wakaba no teri-hayuru

Yamada Setsuko 山田節子

MORE about divine mirrors

Gabi Greve - WKD said...

kami no i no kaki e chiritaru shii no hana

from the hedge
of the sacred well scatter blossoms
of the Shii oak

Masumoto Yukihiro 升本行洋

sacred well

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

shii no hana tsuzura no naka no yubi ningyoo

flowers of the Shii-oak
there are finger dolls
in the wicker box

Futamura Noriko 二村典子
more about wicker boxes

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Ehime 愛媛県 .....城辺町 Johen

A villager had hidden some Ochudo families, but was betrayed and officials came to check. In the following fight, the Ochudo were killed. Before they died, one of them uttered
"If you plant fruit and vegetables in your garden, you will always have enough to eat!"
And so it happened.

At temple 海禅寺 Kaizen-Ji in Uwajima someone begun to dig at the roots of a tree sacred to the Heike, a 椎の木. His face became swollen and his extremities limp. This was a curse of the Ochudo.

Heike Ochudo densetsu 平家落人伝説 legends about Heike Ochudo

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

kunugi 櫟 Quercus acutissima legend

kunuki Daruma, ku nuki Daruma 苦抜き達磨
Daruma taking away the pain
Once upon a time
an old man lived a lonely life, his dreams of getting back his former riches never came true.
One night he had a dream that he would find riches if he cut down the large kunugi oak tree in a corner of the Shinto shrine. Next morning he went to the shrine, and found the big tree. When he hit it with his ax, from the wound in the tree trunk came a small Daruma doll rolling out.
Now the old man realized that he should not follow wrong dreams of riches but live in penance every day and be happy whith what he got.
Another version
tells of an old tree with no special value and just a small hole among its roots, where the Daruma was sitting. He took the Daruma home and prayed to it every day for guidance to achieve a calm mind.

kunugi 櫟 Quercus acutissima - a pun with 苦抜き ku nuki, ku o nuku.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Ehime 愛媛県
喜多郡 Kita district

On 用の山 Mount Yonoyama (540 m) there is a shrine for Gozu Tenno 牛頭天王神社, where Susano-o no Mikoto is worshipped. There was a huge カシの木 Kashi oak tree in the compound, which the villagers cut down to build the shrine. But it turned out to become a curse of Gozu Tenno and all the babies and young children of the village died.
The villagers heard the sound of someone dancing a ritual Kagura dance and went to have a look, but there was nobody. Eventually a diviner told them that it was the angry Gozu Tenno. He wanted them to get new trees from a different mountain nearby and re-plant them here go get the peace back in the village.

Gozu Tennō Densetsu 牛頭天王 伝説

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Legend from Kanagawa 神奈川県 ......................................

tengoosama テンゴーサマ Tengoo Sama

A tengu lived at the river crossing and people were not supposed to walk along there at night. If anyone did, the oak trees on both sides of the road would start walking toward the middle of the road and block it. That was the deed of a Tengu. If people apologized, the Tengu would stop the wind and they could climb the slope.
The old people venerated the Tengu as Tengoo Sama.


Gabi Greve said...

Aichi 愛知県 .....
豊田市 Toyota

Ta no Kami, Yama no Kami

Yamanokami 山の神 lives in the stump of an old oak tree. It is a female deity, gets angry easily and is stingy.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

nara 楢 tree

Legend from Fukushima, 相馬市 Soma town

oonyuudoo 大入道 Onyudo monster
Oncxe an Onyudo monster sat high in an old Japanese oak acorn tree (nara 楢),
A farmer shot at it with a gun. At the first shot he had no hit. After a few more shots he also did not have the feeling of a hit.
He asked a hooin 法印 Buddhist priest for advise. He told him the Onyudo was maybe attracted by Yamanokami.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Fukushima 東白川郡 Higashi Shirakawa district 古殿町 Furudono

Hime no Gozen Yama 姫の御前山 /姫御前山
at "the Mountain of the Princess" there lives a Tengu.
He frightens people with loud noises. Once a woman went to the mountain to collect sweet chestnuts, but was frightend away.
Tengu like the nara no ki ならの木 Nara oak tree and sometimes the branches look like the beard of a Tengu.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Shii oak tree legend from Niigata 椎の木
弥彦村 Yahiko village / Yabiko village

The Kami of 弥彦山 Yahiko-Yama (Yahikosan) came to the area first in the year 710.
At that time he put his a 杖 walking stick of a piercing branch of 椎の木 a Shii oak tree in the ground and it became 神木 the sacred tree of Yamanokami.
If there was something bad happening in the land, the priest could perform a divination. He took leaves and branches to make arrows to win any war.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Shizuoka
kashi no ki カシの木 / 樫 oak tree .

This tree is sacred to Yamanokami. If someone tries to cut such an old tree, he will be cursed, die soon or get injured.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Tottori
. kashi 樫 Quercus oak tree .
八頭郡 Yazu district 若桜町 Wakasa town

. 切分兵衛神 Kiriwake Hyoe no Kami,檻葉天大明神 Kashi no Ha Ten Daimyojin .
Once lupon a time, Kiriwake Hyoe no Kami saw a small female deity float down the river on the leave of kashi 樫 an oak tree.
This deity was venerated at the shrine 吉川神社 Yoshikwas Jinja as 麻疹の神 the Deity to prevent Measles.
Sticking 樫の葉 a leaf of the kashi Oak tree from the Yoshikawa shrine on the entrance of the home prevents the infection with measles.
If by any bad luck someone in the family gets the measles, they place the leaf on the face to heal.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend about kunugi 椚 / 櫟 sawtooth oak, Quercus acutissima
from Yamanashi
Yamanashi, 秋山村 Akiyama village:
In this village, people do not decorate with kadomatsu 門松 pine decorations.
Princess Hinazuru had fled to this village and died here on December 28.
So there was no time to put up pine decorations.
People stick a branch of the kunugi 椚 / 櫟 sawtooth oak, Quercus acutissima in the ground instead.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Ibaraki 茨城県
. shii 椎 the Shii-oak, Pasania .
In the compound of 古河城 Koga castle there was a huge 椎の木 Shii-oak tree, venerated as shinboku 神木 a divine tree, to host 諏訪大社 the Deity of Suwa Taisha. The tree became very huge, so the villagers cut it down. But when they used the wood as firewood, the place became cursed.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Akita - nara no ki

The Nara oak tree in the compound of the temple near 不動堂 the Fudo Hall made scary sounds in the evening.
An itinerant priest promised to make it quiet. He placed a paper strip on it with the inscription
Since then the tree did not make scary sounds any more and soon withered.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend about kunugi 椚 sawtooth oak
Yamanashi 上野原市 Uenohara city 秋山村 Akiyama village
In the village Akiyama, people do not put out kadomatsu 門松 pine decorations for the New Year.
When 雛鶴姫 Princess Hinazuru came to the area on December 28, in memory of 日本武尊 Yamato Takeru,
she became very ill and died.
The villagers had no time to prepare pine decorations.
Instead they cut branches of kunugi 椚 sawtooth oak and planted them in the ground.
To our day now in the village they use sawtooth oak branches.

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