(note: don’t read the entirety of this post if don’t want to see horrible photos of totally rad insects. There’s a page break, and I promise there won’t be any insect photos on the first page. But the second page will be an absolute museum of grotesquerie, so don’t click through to page two if you don’t secretly want to see that.)
After five short months, winter is over in Nagiso. Since moving here in late November, and mixing our metaphors by easing our feet into the needlessly cold bath of December-January (chilly days, uncomfortable nights/mornings), we soon moved onto the main course: January-February-March-April.
Here’s how I would describe this winter:
- Late November→Mid-December: mild days, chilly nights/mornings
- Mid-December→Late January: chilly days, uncomfortable nights/mornings
- February→Mid-Late April: chilly days, that-bit-in-The-Day-After-Tomorrow-where-they-have-to-burn-library-books-to-stave-off-hypothermia nights/mornings.
You think I’m joking, but we had more than our fair share of -15°C nights. And yes, I know I’m now just inviting Canadian/certain American readers to do what they so love doing and loudly scoff “-15°C? That’s NOTHING lol. Call me again when it’s -15K like it is thirteen months a year where I live.”
But Japan has something you Canadians/Americans don’t – a lack of central heating and a strong disdain for the thermodynamic concept of insulation. Our walls are paper thin, and our windows are single-glazed (I suspect they’re somehow less than single-glazed, but am yet to prove anything definitively). We coped by sitting in the kotatsu with a kerosene heater blasting ~10cm from our face at all times, and wrapping ourselves in so many layers we resembled the first moments of a particularly long and tedious game of Pass the Parcel.
It only added insult to injury that ALL our neighbours constantly went about saying “Huh, bit of a warm winter this year, isn’t it?”.
But winter’s over now. We can put it out of our heads and focus on spring. Which I’m happy to report is warm and sunny, and absolutely bursting with an almost comical variety of flowers, and spring plants, and croaking frogs, and singing birds, and…
And more insects than I would have thought possible.
Insects with dozens of legs. Insects covered in fur. Insects that panic and jump haphazardly around on long, spindly legs.
Insects in the grass. Insects waiting to drop down on you from the trees. Insects lazily buzzing through the air on a direct flight path with your precious, ever-s-vulnerable eyes.
Insects inside your house, at all times, just waiting for you to fall asleep so they can slither into your futon…
I found the above cute-yet-somehow-deeply-poignant cartoon when searching online for advice about how to deal with the mother of all Japanese insects: Mukade i.e. giant centipedes.
I read online that they love soft, warm places like blankets and futons. “Well,” I thought “Lucky we just bought a bed, which means the mattress no longer touches the ground and is thus an impenetrable fortress”. Then I read that they can climb on the ceiling and drop down on you while you sleep. “Surely that must be an urban legend.” I thought – but no. We asked one of our friends here and she said “Oh, that’s not an urban legend – it’s happened to me a couple of times.”
Our immediate reaction was to book two one-way flights back to the UK, but unfortunately there’s a worldwide pandemic happening right now, so we did the next best thing: invest in an anti-bug net. But not like the kind of anti-bug nets you’ve probably seen before. It’s more like…well, it’s kind of a…tent…that you put on your bed? Anyway, it looks like this:
When I first suggested buying one to my wife she was extremely sceptical, thinking it was overkill. Two days later we saw an absolutely hideous insect climbing up our living room wall and we immediately made the purchase. And now every night we sleep in an onigiri, and we’ve never felt safer.
…anyway, I know what you came here for. You know what you came here for. You came here for gratuitous close-ups of terrible insects. There are so many different kinds of insects, and they all suck so, so much, but I feel an intense, inexplicable urge to take a photo of each and every one I encounter.
And yes, I know I’m now just inviting Australians to do what they so love doing and loudly scoff “Those insects are nothing! When we leave our house we have to wade through rivers of writhing centipedes, and our prime minister is just a giant man-sized spider.”
But I don’t care. I don’t care – your insects might be worse, but I come from the UK, where we were smart enough to kill half our indigenous species hundreds of years ago. The worst thing I ever saw before coming to Japan was a moderately aggressive daddy long-legs and a grass snake slightly longer than my thumb.
So without further ado, look below to see the link to page two, where you can see some of the insects we’ve encountered in the past few weeks (mostly, but not exclusively inside our house), and read some definitely true information about them. Also, feel free to not do that, if you don’t want to. I promise I won’t judge you.