Kiku was looking at the seasonal almanac for September, and was having difficulty with the title of the five-day segment for the 18th September. “When I try to translate it, it seems to say something about monkeys and swallows”…

Boss Panda frowned, and looked at the kanji. “Ah, it is indeed written in old Chinese characters, as many of them are, and when it is put into hiragana, it becomes ‘tsubame saru’ – the word saru just on its own means monkey! It doesn’t really mean this though, it means the verb ‘to leave’, so don’t worry there aren’t any monkeys involved!”

He left the little fox to his translations, chuckling.

Kiku realised that it simply meant ‘swallows leave’ and asked Mama Kojin if she knew about the birds.

She said “The swallows that came to Japan in the spring must now return to warmer climates, and their gathering together in readiness for this allows us to contemplate the transition from summer to autumn. They are valued as beneficial birds as they eat the insect pests, but not the rice. By early September, most swallows are preparing to migrate. They flutter about restlessly, and can be seen in groups gathered along telegraph wires. Most leave during September, with early broods of youngsters being the first to go. But a few stragglers may hang around into October.”

Kiku asked, “where do the swallows go for the winter?”

Mama Kojin replied, “The Japanese swallow is a subspecies of the barn swallow, and after breeding in Japan, they fly to tropical Asia – from India and Sri Lanka to Indonesia and New Guinea. Some even fly all the way to Australia!”

Kiku looked up into the September sky to see swallows circling up high – he could hardly believe that some of these very young birds just out of the nest could make such a long journey – but then he remembered that as a young fox he had made it all the way from England to Japan!


  • Jennifer says:

    Hey, it’s me orchardsinspace from Instagram. Finally spent some time here, and this is so very charming. The stories, the illustrations, I am smitten! xo Jennifer

    • nakamura says:

      Hello Jennifer!
      Thank you for visiting Kiku and the gang, and your very kind comments – You have made my year! x