Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fukurou 梟 - Owl And Its Meaning In Japan

There are so many representations of owls everywhere in Japan, ranging from statues placed in gardens to lucky charms. I have asked several people about its meaning, and in most cases the answer was a wondering similar to mine. Of course, I would know that owls are related to Athena, the goddess of wisdom in the Greek mythology.

Owl is fukurou in Japanese, and because it includes the work fuku 福 meaning "luck" it was linked with good fortune. Apart from a symbol of luck, the owl protects against suffering and hardship, because fukurou can be written as 苦労 as well - fu means "no" and kurou means hardship, suffering.

They are so cute.

Owls are popular lucky charms, called 縁起物 engimono. I once read that the size/shape and colour of the owl have influence, hence a wide variety of owl souvenirs in Japan.

In the "Handbook Of Japanese Mythology" by Michael Ashkenazi I read about Chikap Kamui, an owl deity considered to be the watcher or master of some area. So I imagine owl statues guard and protect the gardens. Kamui is an Ainu deity. 

I would like to learn more about the meaning of owls in Japan from you, so kindly write a message or a comment.  


  1. I didn't know about this meaning of owl statues and souvenirs in Japan. It was such an interesting read.

    I like fukurou very much, it's kind of misterious and hands on a feeling of wisdom when I look at them. I think it's because of greek myths. ^^

    I'm a japanese descendant and I'm crazy about owls. Specially, Tyto alba that's a common owl here, in Brazil.

    Keep on publishing. (^ _ ^)

  2. Thank you for the information on Tyto alba, it looks so cute. I like it.

    And thank you for your comment. You have excellent blogs, I am going to cook several dishes presented on your blog. My Portuguese is modest, though.

    Have a nice weekend!

  3. I'm following your blog. Really love japanese culture and you do write well! (^ _ ^)I've maintained a lot of traditional values in my family since was a child. So I familiarize with what you publish. It's good to know some trends that are actually in Japan.

    Have a nice weekend too! (^ _ ^)

  4. I am glad you find it interesting, Li-chan. I will post more owls later on, for you.

  5. Hi, I wrote an article a while back entitled
    Owl deity – Chikap Kamui, owls of Japan, owl tales and talismans: (I first published it in 2011 on another blog)

    Hokkaido is my husband's hometown, so owls are a familiar icon for us.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Aileen. I like owls.


    1. Thank you for the link with interesting photos.