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Kaeru

Motif Information
Motif kaeru 01.jpg
Daruma pond frog (Pelophylax porosus)
Rōmaji Kaeru
English Frog
Kanji
Kana かえる
Season Spring
Seasonal Exceptions #
Auspicious Yes
Motif Type Animal
Pronounciation
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Kaeru means frog. There are forty species of frog spread across Japan, including fifteen species that are currently endangered. The most common species are the Japanese brown frog (Rana japonica) and the Japanese tree frog (Hyla japonica). The Japanese brown frog is currently being threatened by the modern practice of winter drainage of rice paddies, its primary spawning ground, and the incursion of the invasive species such as the American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus).

Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings

Kaeru either become dormant or hibernate in the winter and begin to call and mate in the early spring. The Japanese brown frog is one of the earliest breeders, laying its eggs in January or February in flooded rice paddies. This allows its tadpoles to metamorphosis by May or June . The Japanese tree frog is one of the latest breeding species and does not begin to breed until early June.

Motif Connotations & Symbolism

Kaeru with Ono no Michikaze and yanagi on hanafuda


Kaeru are associated with persistence.[1] Ono no Michikaze, the famous calligrapher, is said to have observed a frog futilely trying to jump to a willow branch which was blowing in the wind. On the eighth attempt, the frog made it, inspiring Ono to renew his diligence toward calligraphy. This parable became popular during the Edo period and is illustrated on the willow hanafuda card.

Auspicious Nature

Kaeru sounds like 帰る, "to return." Kaeru are associated with the spring rains that are necessary for a good crop and so are associated with prosperity and happiness.[2]

Common Motif Pairings

Identification & Style Variations

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Motif Examples

Motif in Literature & Other Usage

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In Poetry

Article Notes

Relevant Threads / Discussions

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References

  1. Baird, Merrily. Symbols of Japan: Thematic Motifs in Art and Design. Rizzoli. 2001. p.143.
  2. Kurstin, Joseph. Netsuke:Story Carvings of Old Japan. Joseph Kurstin. 1994. p.63.

Image Credits

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