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The only oriole found in Japan is the Black-naped Oriole, which, apart from occasional sightings as a bird of passage on the Japan Sea coast, is mainly seen at islands in the west such as Tsushima and Kuberajima.
However, the Japanese were long acquainted with orioles through exposure to Chinese poetry and other writings in Chinese. Even a modest Japanese dictionary of Chinese characters today will list a variety of Chinese-derived names for the Black-naped Oriole, including 黄鴬 kōō 'yellow oriole', 黄鳥 kōchō 'yellow bird', 鶬鶊 sōkō 'oriole', and 黄鸝 kōri 'yellow oriole'. Such names were universally known to literate people of the Meiji era, when the current system of Japanese bird names was formulated.
Despite this, ornithologists at the time turned to a different, more Japanese-sounding term when naming the oriole: コウライウグイス (高麗鴬) kōrai uguisu, meaning 'Korean warbler'. This term was not an ornithological coinage; it seems to have already had some currency during the Edo period.
ウグイス uguisu is the name of the Japanese Bush Warbler (Horornis diphone), a bird famous in Japanese poetry for its beautiful song in spring. Indeed, the Japanese poetic identification of the Japanese Bush Warbler with the Chinese oriole was so close that the character 鴬 kō itself, the character for the oriole, came to be read uguisu in Japanese. The distinction between the exotic and native birds appears to have become blurred and ウグイス uguisu became a generic term for beautiful songbirds in general. (See How the Chinese meaning of 鶯 changed from 'oriole' to 'warbler' under Japanese influence).
The first part of the name, 高麗 kōrai, is one of the ancient kingdoms of Korea. It is found in a number of other exotic plant, animal, and fish names in Japanese. Among birds, the other example is the Common Pheasant, known in Japanese as コウライキジ (高麗雉) kōrai kiji 'Korean pheasant'. The rather curious identification of the oriole as a Korean rather than Chinese bird is possibly due to commercial contact between Japan and Korea involving the import of cage birds. This explanation is supported by the fact that there was extensive trade with Korea during the Edo period, carried out via the Sō clan in Tsushima. While fully 27% of imports consisted of ginseng (known as 高麗人参 kōrai ninjin), it is also likely that caged birds like the oriole were among the items traded.
The result of the naming コウライウグイス kōrai uguisu is to identify the oriole as a kind of warbler (cage bird) coming from Korea. And since the character 鴬 is used to write uguisu, it also results in the curious implication that the Oriolus chinensis is a Korean oriole.
Ornithological names (EXTRALIMITALS)
Japanese ornithological names extend the base name コウライウグイス (高麗鴬) kōrai uguisu to the rest of oriolids, including the dark-coloured orioles of Southeast Asia and the figbirds of Australia, New Guinea and the Lesser Sundas. The Figbirds are known as メガネコウライウグイス (眼鏡高麗鴬) megane kōrai uguisu 'spectacled Korean warbler'.
中国鸟类种和亚种分类名录大全（修订版） 郑作新 著 科学出版社 北京 2000年
A Complete Checklist of Species and Subspecies of the Chinese Birds (Revised Edition) by Cheng Tso-Hsin, Science Press, Beijing 2000
中国鸟类分类与分布名录 主编：郑光美 科学出版社 北京 2005年
A Checklist on the Classification and Distribution of the Birds of China Chief editor: Zheng Guangmei, Science Press, Beijing 2005
中国鸟类野外手册（中文版）约翰・马敬能、卡伦・菲利普斯，合作者：荷芬奇，翻译：卢和芬 湖南教育出版社 长沙 2000年
A Field Guide to the Birds of China (Chinese translation) by John MacKinnon, Karen Phillipps, in collaboration with He Fen-qi, translated by Lu Hefen, Hunan Jiaoyu Chubanshe (Hunan Educational Press) Changsha 2000
世界鸟类分类与分布名录 主编：郑光美 科学出版社 北京 2002年
A Checklist on the Classification and Distribution of the Birds of the World Chief editor: Zheng Guangmei, Science Press, Beijing 2002
世界鸟类名称（拉丁文、汉文、英文对照）第二版 郑作新等 科学出版社 北京 2002年
Birds of the World (Latin, Chinese and English Names) 2nd ed. by Cheng Tso-Hsin et al, Science Press, Beijing 2002