The Significance of the Heron in Tales of the Otori

posted in: Lian Writes... | 1
The heron is one of the key symbols in Tales of the Otori. It is the crest of the Otori clan and is used many times in comparisons with Lord Shigeru. He describes himself as having the patience of the heron (ATNF Chapter 3) and Takeo sees him as the heron that swooped into the village of Mino and caught him up.


Herons are beautiful, elegant birds that are often portrayed in Japanese art. In poetry they are often associated with the cold of winter. They stand motionless for a long time or stalk slowly through the water before catching their prey. When they take flight they utter a cry that is haunting and evocative. This is one of the last sounds heard at the end of Brilliance of the Moon, as the snow begins to fall.

These are two other images that inspired parts of The Harsh Cry of the Heron:

dog game

Inuomono the dog chasing game (from Japan A History in Art by Bradley Smith)

A cat demon (from

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