NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉


鷽(ウソ) Uso Uso (Eurasian Bullfinch)

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Uso, or Eurasian Bullfinch, is the size of a swallow with characteristic short beak and, in case of a male bullfinch, a light pink color in his cheeks.
The Japanese name, uso, came from “usobuku” which means “to pretend not to know”.  The bird’s short beak and pink cheeks must have reminded ancient people of people who whistle when they feign ignorance.
Uso, utilizing their short, wide beaks, eat leaves and nuts as well as insects and spiders. They are especially fond of eating flower buds just when cherry and plum trees start shooting out the new season’s growth.
Uso was regarded as a useful bird and is protected by many farmers because by eating the buds of fruit trees they play a role thinning out excess buds thereby helping others grow bigger.
However, more recently some fruit trees eaten by uso don’t grow any fruit at all. It can cause serious damage to the crop and uso may be considered a harmful bird when this happens.
Dazaifu Tenmanguu Shrine in Fukuoka, Kyuushuu, which is famous for its plum trees, still protects uso and preserves a special place for the birds. The shrine holds a religious event called “Usokae” in which visitors bring their own wooden uso birds and exchange them with one another. It is said that the person who receives a golden uso will be blessed with happiness.

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Uso (Eurasian Bullfinch)

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