One of the simplest yet most profound pleasures of spring in Japan is hearing the nightingale's song. Even in the urban sprawl of Tokyo, these sonorous creatures find patches of greenery and manage to make their melodies heard in spite of the cacophony of traffic, trains and ubiquitous loudspeakers. Just hearing a single phrase warbled from these birds on a warm spring morning refreshes the spirit and reminds one that nature is never too far away.

If the modern ear, in spite of the city noise, can be sensitive to such sounds, the premodern ear, living in a time of much less extraneous noise, must really have feasted on the plentiful sounds of the land. Indeed, the traditional music of Japan utilizes many such natural and animal sounds, both descriptive and onomatopoeic, to express the sonic richness of the world. For example, there are shakuhachi pieces that convey the crying of deer in the woods, shamisen pieces that imitate mice gnawing away at food left in the kitchen, and koto pieces that mimic the insect cries of autumn. The nightingale remains, however, a favorite subject in hogaku.

It is also found in various compositions by Western composers, and Kioi Hall continues its series presenting hogaku together with Western music composed along the same theme in its upcoming concert featuring the uguisu nightingale.