I crouched again by the side of the cage. The bunchō shifted its plump head several times from side to side. Finally, in a white blur, its body disappeared from the perch. Before I knew it, the fronts of its delicate claws were hooked on the edge of the food bowl. The food bowl, that the smallest touch of one's finger could readily upset, held steady as a massive temple bell. The bunchō, it seemed, like the essence of lightly-falling snow, weighed next to nothing.
The bunchō's beak darted into the bowl. Then it shook from side to side. Millet, that I'd carefully leveled in preparing the bowl, was strewn about the bottom of the cage. The bunchō raised its beak. A faint sound emanated from its throat. The beak dropped back to the millet. The faint sound followed again. The sound was most intriguing. I listened attentively. It was a soft harmony, at an exceedingly rapid tempo. I imagined a tiny man, no larger than a violet, striking agate Go pieces in succession with a golden mallet.
The color of the beak was crimson, but with a touch of purple. The crimson dissipated over its length, yielding to white at the tip where it pecked at the millet. The white of the tip was like translucent ivory. The motion of the beak into the millet was extremely rapid. The light grains of millet were easily scattered from side to side. The bunchō, as it thrust its sharp beak down into the yellow millet, was very nearly head over heels. On each thrust, it shook its plump head from side to side with abandon. Countless grains littered the cage floor. Through all of this, the bowl held steady like a silent observer. It was a substantial bowl, five centimeters or so in diameter.
I returned to the solitude of my study, working my pen across the page. From the bunchō on the veranda came "chi, chi." Occasionally it sang "chiyo, chiyo." Outside, a cold wind blew.
At dusk I saw the bunchō drink. Resting its delicate feet on the edge of the bowl, it caught a single droplet in its small beak. Then it carefully tilted its head up and swallowed. At this rate, I thought to myself as I returned to the study, a dishful of water should last it ten days. When night fell I placed the bunchō in its box. Before retiring, I looked out through the glass doors. The moon was out, and a frost had settled. There was no sound from the bunchō in its box.