• by Matt Alt
  • Special To The Japan Times


Now that the tsuyu (梅雨, rainy season) has ended and the dreaded heat has descended upon the city, most of us have taken refuge indoors, camped out in front of the eakon (エアコン, air-conditioning) in a desperate attempt to wick away some of summer’s sticky mushiatsusa (蒸し暑さ, humidity). The summer months conjure up images of being sushizume (すし詰め, packed in like sardines) in crowded trains and bishonure no ase (びしょぬれの汗, sweat-drenched) commutes through the blazing sun, leading to stress and even, in worst-case scenarios, necchūshō (熱中症, heat stroke). In fact a great many Tokyoites spend the summer months praying for the first days of fall.

But these very same months, when the city’s human residents are suffering, are actually some of the plant and animal world’s favorites. There’s a famous kotowaza (ことわざ, proverb) in English that goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” In Japan’s kisetsufū kikō (季節風気候, monsoon climate), these showers tend to happen at the end of June, but the effect is the same. Once they end, a whole host of plants and creatures come out of the literal woodwork. And boku wa mushi no otaku! (僕は虫のおたく!I’m a sucker for creepy crawlies!).

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