A red skimmer dragonfly

How important bugs are in Japan's culture.

May 10,1999. M.Sekine

The Japanese people are great lovers of bugs - dragonflies, beetles, butterflies, cicadas, grasshoppers, etc. The fact that from early days of Jimmu, the first emperor, Japan has been known by a pseudonym, 'Akitsushima', or Dragonfly Isles, indicates how important these small forms of life have been in Japan's culture. The glistening, cherished memory of one's boyhood centered around catching bugs in a green field on a bright summer day. In the height of summer, going to the countryside and catching insects was an adventure for us in childhood. We used to make wonderful discoveries about nature in coppices, ponds, brooks, and paddy fields.
The late Tezuka Osamu (1928-1989), the most famous manga artist and animator in Japan, also had a passion for insects - so much that he created a pen name for himself, using the Japanese character for "insect" in his first name, Osamu. Like the famous French entomologist Jean Henri Fabre before him, he observed insects and other life, and grew up as a lad with a vivid imagination. Tezuka Osamu developed a profound awareness of the values of life. The comics and animation that Tezuka created began to influence all genres of expression, including literature and film.
Recently, Kevin Short, a naturalist in the Japanese countryside, said, "Tezuka's works must have reflected the wonderful experience that he had, having been brought up with insects. The mysteries and wonder of nature with which he had been deeply impressed in his childhood must be the source of his imagination. The Japanese even have a special word, konchu shonen (literally, "insect boy"), to describe children who love insects. Miyazaki Hayao, the animator of 'Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind' and 'The princess MONONOKE', is a lover of bugs, too. Many other leading Japanese artists and photographers have derived their inspiration from local insects. I think Japanese culture is based on 'bugs-loving'."
I think so, too. By the way, to my disappointment, nature in Japan is being lost day by day. And nowadays Japanese children are not absorbed in outdoor play.
Let's conserve nature!
And, kids! Play in the green fields and run after bugs!