kari (wild geese - 雁) (genre )



"The southward migration of geese (kari) in autumn was so celebrated in traditional Japan that the eighth lunar month was known as kanaraigetsu, the month of the geese's return. This led to the use of migrating geese as a motif in the fine and applied arts. Moreover, geese descending to land constituted one of the eight themes in a series of paintings first used by Chinese painters of the eleventh century. This theme was later adopted in Japan as one of a prescribed set of views, known as omi hakkei, for landscapes of lake districts...

The importance of geese in Japanese art was further secured by stories of several military heroes who had achieved victory in battle when a sudden breaking of ranks by flying geese signaled an ambush. This protective role of the birds led to their frequent use in decorating sword furnishings and possibly also their adoption as a family crest motif. Finally, the goose in Asia plays a role in religious traditions. In Japan, the depiction of the Buddhist deities Gatten and Bonten on a throne of white geese follows the traditions of India. Further, the sennin Ryujo (Chinese: Liu Nu/Liu Nu) is sometimes depicted using a goose - in place of a swan - to transport her to heaven. In Japan, as in China, folk beliefs associate geese with wedded bliss."

Quote from: Symbols of Japan: Thematic Motifs in Art and Design by Merrily Baird, pp. 111-112.