【SUMMER】An insight into the Japanese and “Insects”: Do only Japanese people collect beetles as pets, and adore fireflies?



Do you fancy bugs?

After the severe winter, spring has finally come! People can be seen having lunch outside in the park. Some insects are also coming out due to the warmer weather.
Needless to say, bug haters are everywhere in the world including Japan, but there’s another side of Japanese culture where we actually adore bugs. Guess how much we adore insects.




Crickets, beetles, and stag beetles are pets in Japan! Some of them are expensively priced at the mall or on Internet auctions!

During the summer time, more insects begin to appear. The three most famous bugs of the Japanese summer are crickets, beetles, and stag beetles. For typical Japanese summer holiday fun, boys go into the bush to catch crickets and beetles to bring them home as pets. On Internet auction sites, some rare beetles and stag beetles are priced from about 800 dollars to sometimes 2.5 million dollars! Even though adult insect collectors most often buy these bugs, beetles and stag beetles enchant both the young and old. (Mothers often hope that these bugs will not become permanent residents in their houses)



Speaking of summer insects, fireflies are also very popular among the Japanese. Fireflies emit beautiful light from their body and are also loved by Westerners. Fireflies are used in song themes and movie themes such as “Hotaru no hikari” (蛍の光) and Studio Ghibli’s “Hotaru no haka” (蛍の), or “Grave of the Fireflies.” Remarkably, there are even some firefly festivals where you can witness their beautiful luminescence! Fireflies are highly admired by Japanese people. Famous Japanese poets, Issa Kobayashi, Basho Matsuo, and Buson Yosa often use insect names as seasonal words with fireflies appearing in their poems as the second most frequently used seasonal word. From that point of view, fireflies have been a kind of long-lived, beautiful beings for Japanese people for hundreds of years.



The concept of “Nature” in Japan is different from other countries?

As we had wrote in a previous article, Japanese people enjoy insect noises as “soothing” or “comfortable” in their culture. According to Tadanobu Tsunoda, a doctor of medicine at Tokyo Medical and Dental University, while Western people recognize the sound that the insects make as “noise” by the right brain, Japanese people recognize it as a “voice” by the left brain, where language is processed.
He says that this difference is not due to race, but is derived from language.
As another aspect, Japan has four transitional seasons that feel short-lived. America has a much more vast landscape/nature where people feel as if they are standing in the middle of it all by themselves. It can be noted that the Japanese concept of nature is likely to be more understood from a micro-viewpoint, much like the momentary lives of insects, while their Western counterparts understand from a macro-viewpoint.

*Bonsai is part of Japanese culture that captures nature on a micro scale.


It’s interesting to see how differently people perceive things.
From a cultural point of view, it’s more likely that people in Japan adore or respect insects as living beings.
Contrary to the theory, I’m a legitimate bug hater.
I wonder when I’ll be able to love them with enough sensibility to sympathize with those little creatures.

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Writer / Translator

I’m a freelance translator from Tokyo who likes to travel right in the middle of the unpredictables in life. Through the translation of articles I hope to create points of contact between Japan and the rest of the world. As a writer, I want to add information that isn’t in the guide book, from a “wasabi” perspective!