Hi! I’m an owl. I live in Japan. I have a lot of relatives all around the world. Did you know that owls are believed to bring luck in many countries? Japan is one of them. Will you listen to my story?
Owls are called fukuro in Japanese. Let’s see how it is written in kanji.
This kanji includes the meanings of “strong”, “brave” and “ferocious”. It consists of two parts. The upper part is an abbreviation of the kanji 鳥(tori) which means “bird”. The bottom part depicts a tree. According to one theory, it is said that dead owls used to be put on trees to scare birds. Boo!! Let’s set aside that scary story for now.
☆Owls in the world
Hoot, hoot. Let me boast a little bit.
Did you know it is said that our ancestor used to be a follower of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom? Also, Native Americans believed we were prophets who could foresee dangers. In France, people believe that if they see us when they go to harvest, they can have a bountiful harvest. In the UK, it is said that if a pregnant woman hears an owl’s hooting, the newborn baby will be blessed.
See? I’m as wise as an owl! We are mainly nocturnal in habit but definitely work behind the scenes.
☆Owls in Japan
Ho, ho! I’m not Santa! But Japanese people hear the sound of our call like this. What role do we play in this country?
As I said before, we are called fukuro in Japanese, and kanji depicts us as 梟. However, there are many other ways to describe us when people enjoy the meaning of the word. Let me introduce some of them. You can see how Japanese people love to play with words!
1. 福来ろう(fukuro)…福(fortune)＋来(come)→A fortune will come!
2. 福籠(fukuro)…福(fortune)＋籠(wrapped)→Wrapped with fortune.
3. 不苦労(fukuro)…不(no)＋苦労(difficulty)→Having no difficulties.
4. 福老(fukuro)…福(fortune)＋老(grow old)→Grow old happily.
Let me add some more theories about us!
5. Owls are believed to be symbols of wisdom, so we can be used as lucky charms when people want to pass entrance exams for certain schools or get some certification.
6. We have good eyesight and ears. We never overlook great opportunities for business. That’s why some people put figurines or symbols of us to pray for a thriving business.
7. There is a Japanese saying, “Kubi ga mawaranai.(首が回らない)” It literally means you can’t turn your neck all the way around, but it describes the situation where you can’t make ends meet. Did you know that we have 14 neck bones? You might be surprised that we can rotate our necks 270 degrees! Thanks to this feature, some people believe owls bring their business prosperity.
☆Are you a night owl?
Hoot, hoot! Hoo, hoo!
If you are a night owl, how about becoming an early bird, not flying with the owls? You might find some cute owl figurines/sculptures around entrances of houses or shops if you take a walk in the morning. Look who’s talking? Haha! Yes! I’m an owl. And I pray for your happy days and nights from here! Thanks for listening to my story.
Working for an English language school. My source of energy is our students’ smiles full of curiosity. I love visiting my friends in and outside of Japan.