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Regarding Marco Gessler’s Sept. 18 letter, “Kill the jokes about spiders” (which was a response to Amy Chavez’s Sept. 10 Japan Lite column, “The power of spiders in rural Japan“): First of all, I sincerely sympathize with Gessler and his family in Mexico over the the death of his daughter from a spider. I am not a regular reader of Chavez, nor am I a strong advocate of spiders. I would, however, like to add one thing on the Japanese way of thinking about spiders.

Spiders are thought to be beneficial because they prey on insects, especially in paddy fields. Rice itself is indispensable not only as a staple food but also as a symbol of an agricultural people. This appears related to the legend of asagumo (morning spiders) — don’t kill a spider seen in the morning. The legend has been passed down orally in many families.

Spiders have been gratefully accepted in Japan since ancient days, and since there are very few venomous spiders here, people do not consider close encounters with spiders as life-threatening.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

yoji shiobara

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