WKD - Minomushi bagworm and mino


a piece of moss
crawls up the wall -
minomushi incognito

Because of all the rain, moss is growing everywhere and the straw raincoat bug uses it very efficiently as camoufflage.


minomushi, "straw raincoat bug" ,
case moth, bagworm, basketworm
蓑虫 larva of Psychidae

minomushi with its normal "raincoat".


source : itoyo/basho
haiga by Kyoroku 許六画

Matsuo Basho is inviting his haiku friend Sodo to come over for a visit to a haiku meeting at Basho-An.

minomushi no ne o kiki ni koyo kusa no io

Come listen
to the sound of the bagworm! –
a grass hut

tr. Shirane

come to listen
to the sound of the bagworms!
my grass hut

Tr. Gabi Greve

. Yamaguchi Sodoo 山口素堂 Yamaguchi Sodo - .

Sodo wrote the essay "Minomushi no setsu" "Comment on the Bagworm" .

Shirane, Traces of Dreams - page 173
source : http://books.google.co.jp


shita yami ya mushi mo fura-fura mino tsukuru

darkness beneath the trees -
the bagworm, too, shakes
to make its raincoat

Kobayashi Issa
Tr. Gabi Greve

mo implies that humans also make straw raincoats.

Translation and comment by Chris Drake:

in deep shade
a moth, too, makes a raincoat
swaying, shaking

This summer hokku is from the 6th month (July) of 1816. The "too" here seems to refer to the fact that not only humans but also female bagworm moth larvae make straw raincoats. As the female moth larva stitches various stalks, fibers, and leaves from the host tree together into a surrounding protective bag or case that vaguely resembles a straw raincoat, she causes the bag or case to sway and shake, almost the way a straw raincoat sways and shakes as the pieces of straw making it up are stitched together and then when the person walks with it on.

In this hokku a female moth larva has fastened herself to a lower, deeply shaded limb of a tree or tall bush with silk thread, and she also uses the thread to tie together her fairly long case-like nest, which hangs down below her head while her head remains outside at the top. As she attaches more and more materials, the whole bag-like nest, which is hanging down from a limb, sways and shakes more and more with her motions, so she may have been easy to spot for Issa.

The greatest swaying and swinging takes place in early autumn, when males leave the bags to mate at other bags and then quickly die. By July, the time of this hokku, the bag or case is fairly long, and the female has attached all sorts of generally long, thin materials to it to make it stronger.

And here is an old photo of some men in traditional straw raincoats:

source : did-you-know

The resemblance is the basis for the moth's Japanese name, which means "straw raincoat bug," although Issa doesn't use the name of the moth here. I think Issa finds the swaying and shaking both fascinating and humorous, and he may be imagining what it would be like on a rainy day to see humans swinging and swaying as vigorously as this moth up and down streets and roads. I'm reminded of a Hiroshige woodblock print or scenes from Hokusai's manga showing people in various poses on windy days.


minomushi 蓑虫 "straw raincoat bug"
case moth, bagworm, basketworm
larva of Psychidae

Other Japanese names for the minomushi,
kigo for all autumn

child of the devil, oni no ko 鬼の子(おにのこ)
child abandoned by the devil, oni no sutego 鬼の捨子(おにのすてご)
child without relatives, minashigo みなし子(みなしご)
child without parents, oya nashi go 親無子(おやなしご)

woodcutting bug, kikori mushi 木樵虫(きこりむし)

the bagworm is making a sound, minomushi naku

The sound is a bit like "chii chii" (father, father), hence people of old thought a child was abandoned by the demons and cried.

Sei Shonagon has already written about this "child of the devil", which was left by its parents and is crying out for hunger . . .

minomushi ya aki hidarushi to naku nameri

this devil bagworm !
it seems to call out :
"I am hungry in autumn"

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 - (1715-1783) .


some comments

a straw raincoat bug - what a wonderfully descriptive name! i love it.


I love this too, Gabi. I see Shirane translates minomushi as 'bagworm':

minomushi no ne o kiki ni koyo kusa no io

Come listen
to the sound of the bagworm! –
a grass hut


yes, I like this, gabi...

I know bagworms well. It was my job, as a kid, to pick all the bagworms off our old evergreen tree.
I loved to watch them twist and dance sometimes of the limbs


Nice one, Gabi. Unfortunately, without your link, I wouldn't know what minomushi meant . . . and on-line dictionaries didn't help. Guess you'd need a footnote if you published this elsewhere.
Great imagery . . .


What an absolutely fascinating insect, Gabi!
Thanks for this... I've never seen one before.


Bashô ikô minomushi no koe wa dare mo kikazu

after Basho
no one has heard
a bagworm’s voice

Shimatani Seiroo 島谷征良, Seiro Shimatani (1949 - )
source : Tr. Fay Aoyagi


CLICK for more photos

mino 蓑/簑 straw raincoat

Tea cup by Okayama Junzoo.

Here is a monkey, wearing a mino coad from large leaves, as depicted in the famous scroll of frolicking animals.

. Choojuu-giga scrolls (choju giga) 鳥獣戯画  

. kappa 合羽 raincoats .
made from impregnated paper


. Sarumino 猿蓑 Monkey's Raincoat .

Monkey's Straw Raincoat
Das Affenmäntelchen
Le Manteau de pluie du Singe
(Tr. René Sieffert 1986)

Linked Poetry of the Basho School
translated from the Japanese by Lenore Mayhew Rutland,
Vermont: 1985 895.61 SAR

Monkey's Raincoat came about in 1690 when the poet Basho and a friend, Otokuni, made a trip to the capital city of Edo (now Tokyo). The two invited sic other poets to help them celebrate the occasion by composing a renga. As the basho, Basho wrote the lead verses. "Let's squeeze the juice from our bones", Basho enthused.

Winter's first rain
Monkey needs
A raincoat too.

The renga has been compared to the verse debates conducted by medieval troubadours. Called partumens, these debates provided entertainment for aristocratic gatherings. At about the same time in Japan, Lady Murasaki in her masterpiece The Tale of Genji described the members of court passing the time by making a renga. It would be the great poet Basho (1644-1694) who transformed the renga from a game to a profound art.
source : fearlessreader.blogspot.com

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


humanity kigo for all winter

. minobooshi 蓑帽子(みのぼうし)
long straw winter hat

yukimino 雪蓑(ゆきみの)
snow jacket / coat made from straw


observance kigo for mid-winter

okami 岡見 (おかみ) "viewing from the hill"
sakasa mino 逆蓑(さかさみの)
straw coat upside down

It was custom on the last day of the year to wear a straw coat upside down, walk on a hill overlooking the home and thus be able to see the good and bad fortune for the coming year.
To wear the mino coat upside-down is a practise in fortunetelling.

It dates back to Jinmu Tenno, who is said to be the first to perform this ritual.


- - - - - Matsuo Basho

降らずとも 竹植る日は 蓑と笠
furazu tomo take uu hi wa mino to kasa

even if it does not rain
they plant on bamboo planting day -
a mino-raincoat and a rain-hat

Basho age 41 or later. from Oi Nikki 笈日記

. WKD : Bamboo and Haiku  

tootosa ya yuki furanu hi mo mino to kasa

so respectful !
even on the day when it does not snow
a mino-raincoat and a rain-hat

Written in December 1690 元禄3年
He might have written this when seeing the ragged image of Ono no Komachi, Sotoba Komachi 卒都婆小町 the Beauty Komachi on a grave marker.
It might have reminded him of his own appearance, almost like a ragged beggar.

One of the "seven Komachi"
Read the story and her poem here :
. 7 Sotouba Komachi 卒塔婆小町. .

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


. Straw (wara 藁)  





Gabi Greve said...

Some other bagworm haiku:

minomushi no ne o kiki ni koyo kusa no io

Listening in tranquillity

come here their cry;
a thatched hut

Basho, trans. Barnhill

minomushi no furusu ni soote ume nirin

alongside the old
cocoon of a bagworm
two plum blossoms

Buson, trans. Ueda

mino-mushi-no etari kashikoshi hatsu-shigure

The canny bagworm
Wisely finds itself a home--
First winter drizzle

Buson, trans. Leon M. Zolbrod

minomushi no un no tsuyosa yo satsuki ame

the bagworm
has strong karma...
Fifth Month rain

Issa, trans. Lanoue

ugoite minomushi datta yo

Leaving Kawabata

It moved was a bagworm

Santoka, trans. Hiroaki Sato

It wiggles;
A bagworm.

trans. Takashi Nonin

minomushi mo shizuku suru haru ga kita zo na

The bagworm too dripping spring has come yes

Santoka, trans. Sato

burari to sagatte yuki furu minomushi

Dangling the snow falling on a bagworm

Santoka, trans. Sato

Larry Bole

Anonymous said...

Bagworm And Its Control

D.J. Shetlar

The common bagworm, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis (Haworth), is an interesting caterpillar. The most commonly observed form of this pest is the spindle-shaped silk bag camouflaged with bits of foliage, bark and other debris (Fig. 1). Completed bags range from 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches long. The larva within the bag is brown or tan, mottled with black, and the bee-like adult males have clear wings and fur covered bodies. The females remain larva-like and do not emerge from the bag.

The larva may stick its head and front legs out of the top of the bag to feed and move. When disturbed, the larva immediately pulls its head into the bag and holds the opening closed. Mature larvae may stay on their host plant or drag their bags some distance before firmly attaching the bag for transformation into the adult stage.

The bagworm occurs in the eastern United States from New England to Nebraska and south through Texas. The larvae seem to prefer arborvitae and red ceder but many other conifers and deciduous trees are attacked. These include: pine, spruce, cypress, juniper, willow, black locust, sycamore, apple, maple, elm, poplar, oak, and birch.

Life Cycle and Habits

Bagworms have a single generation per year and overwinter as eggs inside the female bag. There may be 300-1000 eggs in a bag. The eggs delay hatching until late-May or early-June. As they hatch, the small blackish larvae crawl out the bottom of the bag and spin down on a strand of silk.

These larvae on a string are often picked up by the wind and ballooned to nearby plants. When a suitable host plant is found the young larva immediately begins to form a new bag over its body. This bag is only about 1/8 inch long and is soon covered with sawdust-like fecal pellets.

As the larva feeds and grows it enlarges the bag and begins to incorporate bits and pieces of plant material. By mid-August, the larvae are mature and they often move to a sturdy branch or other structure where they attach the bag firmly with a strong band of silk. The larvae orient themselves with their heads down and pupate.

The female pupa looks much like the larva while the male forms characteristic wing pads and other adult-like structures. Within four weeks the males emerge and actively fly about in search of females. Mature females call by releasing a sex attractant pheromone.

After mating the female literally mummifies around the egg mass,which remains in place until the next spring.


Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...


harusame ya / mino fuki kaesu / kawa yanagi

Matsuo Basho

Gabi Greve - Buson said...

Yosa Buson

akisame ya waga sugemino wa mada nurasaji

rain in autumn -
my straw raincoat
not yet wet

Rain . . .

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

minogame 蓑亀 minokame, "turtle with a raincoat"
art motives

Gabi Greve said...

Legends about the Minomushi ミノムシ roundworm
A man boarded his ship around 3 in the morning in March, when he saw something sparkling. He picked it up, it looked like 金粉 gold powder.
This was a minomushi, which represents the soul of people who have died on sea or in water accidents.

11 to collect

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