Call of the wild

There are two poems in the Hyakunin Isshu that mention deer, numbers 5 and 83, and they are as follows:

"Deep in the mountains, I hear the deer's cry as he walks through crimson leaves: at these times I feel autumn's sadness."
"O world! There is no escape! Though deep in thought and in the mountains, I hear even the deer crying."

Now I've read both of these a few times, not to mention many other Japanese poems that reference the cry of the deer, but it only occurred to me today (yes! I do have a lot of free time, thanks for asking!) that I don't actually know what noise these poems are talking about.

Which is not to say they don't evoke a sound in my imagination. They do. But it's a shakuhachi playing Shika no Toone -- a deep, woody (OK, bambooey) sound which probably isn't much like an actual deer's voice.

So, to remedy this deficiency in my understanding, I decided to seek out some deer calls, and found this neat page. Go halfway down and you'll see a big color diagram indicating which kind of deer makes which call at whom -- you can click on the arrows the calls are written in, or use the menu below if you're browsing with Lynx.

I believe that numbers 1 ("fiiyoo, fiiyoo, fiiyoo" or "fyuun, fyuun, fyuun"), 3 ("myuun") and 4 ("miifuun") are the calls that these poems are specifically referring to, and man, are they freaky. They don't make me melancholy. They make me want to invent stories about terrifying squealing goblins out in the woods.

To summarise, idle, artsy-fartsy nobles who drooped about the place one thousand years ago quaking at the thought of taboo compass directions and literally dying of broken hearts, were manlier than me.

Popularity factor: 3


you and deer; justin and frogs. zoo jet.


Oh deer god, will you stop windging and go ahead and get one of the funny hats, then?

(Don't forget the baggy pantaloons, too, eh!)

(BTW, is this cervidaean fetish a long-standing thing, or a recent development?)


Hey, if that was my motivation, I'd have directed everybody here. I swear it!

Comment season is closed.