梅と鶯 (plum blossom and bush warbler)

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Title:

梅と鶯 (ume to uguisu)
plum and bush warbler

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This top depicts a bush warbler and plum blossom. The theme of “bush warbler in the plum blossoms” is found extensively in Japanese artistic traditions, including both poetry and art. Both bush warblers and plum blossoms are considered symbols of the arrival of spring, poems about which appear as early as Japan’s oldest extant collection of poetry, the Man’yōshū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), dating from the mid-eighth century. Although traditionally  the bush warbler and plum blossom are paired together, in reality, people often spot the Japanese white-eye bird (mejiro, Zosterops japonicus), among plum blossoms in early spring, which looks markedly similar. As a matter of fact, Hiroi-sensei originally wrote “梅と目白 (plum and Japanese white-eye) on the top labels, but during his interview declared the top of a bush warbler. We amended the top title to reflect his interview content.

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Hiroi Michiaki: Umm. This is–

Mrs. Hiroi: This is, oh, a whistle.

Hiroi: No this is different, it’s a howling top of a bush warbler on a plum blossom.

Mrs. Hiroi: So the bush warbler spins.

Hiroi: It’s a howling top.

Mrs. Hiroi: Eh? It’s not a whistle top?

Hiroi: No, no.  This is, umm… ah, I know. Yeah. You wrap the string here, and if you hold this bush warbler and pull it, this is a top that makes a pooouu noise. It’s in the shape of a plum blossom, a bush warbler on a plum blossom.

Mrs. Hiroi: Yeah, the bottom is a plum blossom. Plum.

 

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