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
Let's conserve nature!
And, kids! Play in the green fields and run after bugs!