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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Creature Feature: Higurashi.

Summer feels like it's already over. I have to pick up schoolbooks tomorrow (JAPANESE RELIGION!), people are talking about 'nice' days, and there are dead cicadas everywhere. When the cicadas are gone, summer really is over.

But did you know that there are many different types of cicadas? Not every cicada is periodical, for example,meaning that some species come out every summer. The males chirp their little hearts out, mate, and then die. Talk about a life well-lived.

Cicadas, noisy as they are, have gained cultural attention. Japan, a country way into bug-catching since its early days, has several words for several different cicadas. (No foolin' - they have crazy specific animal vocabulary that I will not get into here.) The most popular in fiction is a type of cicada called a higurashi.

The higurashi (or Tanna japonensis) is a type of cicada native to Japan and China. It is most common in southern Hokkaido, but can be found all over Japan. This particular type of cicada mates in late summer - early fall. It sounds like this:

If you have watched too much enough anime, you should know that sound. The cry of a higurashi sounds particularly sad to Japanese people, which explains its use as a sound effect in many series. The most well-known of these is, of course, Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni - "When the Higurashi Cry."(The word 'higurashi' can also apparently mean 'day to day life,' making the homophone in that series especially chilling.)

Well, at least the cicadas had fun.

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