The Sound of Summer in Japan

18 Aug

Are they (Cicadas) in your country?
(Cicadas) are a large insect that spends most of it’s life underground in it’s egg. It spends a few years underground before it hatches, then it digs it’s way to the surface.

(Cicadas) emerge from the ground every summer in Japan. Shortly after emerging from the ground still a “baby” that can’t yet fly, they grow into an adult and shed their hard skin.

As an adult, (Cicadas) can fly but they are harmless. They don’t bite or sting…they feed on tree sap so they spend most of their time on tree trunks.

Once they mature, they have a short life-span. They need to quickly find a mate because they will die in just a few weeks.
In order to find a mate, the male (Cicadas) chirp loudly and continuously during the daytime.

So the sound of (Cicadas) chirping is the “sound of summer” to Japanese people.

Anyways, yesterday I had some errands to run in downtown Tokyo. After I finished, I took a few photos…including photos of (Cicadas) that I saw in 上野公園 (Ueno Park).
I also took a short video of a couple (Cicadas) so you can hear them.

Here are the photos and video I took:

Kasumigaseki Police Station

Kasumigaseki Police Station

The engine of Japan's first train in front of 新橋駅 (Shinbashi Stn (one of Japan's oldest train stations))

The engine of Japan's first train in front of 新橋駅 (Shinbashi Stn (one of Japan's oldest train stations))

In front of 新橋駅 (Shinbashi Station)

In front of 新橋駅 (Shinbashi Station)

不忍池 ("Shinobazu Pond") at 上野公園 (Ueno Park)

不忍池 ("Shinobazu Pond") at 上野公園 (Ueno Park)

A Cicada's skin after shedding.

A Cicada's skin after shedding.

蝉 (A Cicada) on a tree

蝉 (A Cicada) on a tree

A Cicada against Tokyo's skyline

A Cicada against Tokyo's skyline

不忍池 (Shinobazu Pond)

不忍池 (Shinobazu Pond)

Mr. Cicada serenading the ladies.

Mr. Cicada serenading the ladies.

DSCF5241

At Ueno’s Toshogu Shrine, there are monuments in honor of the first pair of eyeglasses in Japan, Japanese instrument called “Biwa“, and blowfish.

「ふぐ供養碑」 ("Monument to the blowfish")

「ふぐ供養碑」 ("Monument to the blowfish")

Cicada in front of Ueno's Toshogu Shrine.

Cicada in front of Ueno's Toshogu Shrine.

And here’s a video I took where you can hear the chirping of the (Cicadas):

Advertisements

25 Responses to “The Sound of Summer in Japan”

  1. Fidel Hart August 23, 2009 at 10:38 pm #

    I have wondered what that sound is. It’s very overwhelming. I looked around and could not find any of the insects yet the sounds make them seem like they are right next to you.

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

      They’ll soon be gone. It’s kinda sad.

      I visited America about five years ago in the summertime. It was too quiet! It didn’t feel like “summer”!
      I’m not used to summer without the sound of cicada anymore.

      Like

  2. soysaucequeen August 19, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

    懐かしい・・・
    日本にいたときはどこにでも蝉はいたのに、ここではあまり見かけません。 おまけに、日本の蝉と違う鳴き方です。
    子供のころ、蝉の抜け殻を集めてました。 Tokyo5さんも同じことしましたか?

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 20, 2009 at 12:03 am #

      I’ve never seen a 蝉 (cicada) in America. I saw a photo of an “American” cicada on the internet…they’re smaller and not as “cute” as the ones in Japan.
      Do they sound different too?

      My kids used to collect cicada’s 殻 (shell) when they were younger too!

      Like

      • becomingjapanese August 20, 2009 at 12:31 am #

        I believe they sound the same, or at least very similar.

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 20, 2009 at 1:13 am #

        >I believe they sound the same, or at least very similar.

        soysaucequeen” wrote above that they sound different. That’s why I asked about it.

        Like

      • becomingjapanese August 20, 2009 at 1:59 am #

        Here in AZ they are smaller than the midwest ones. and a little quieter. The midwest cicadas are quite large and very loud.

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 20, 2009 at 2:06 am #

        Do they look like アブラゼミ (Japanese cicadas (the ones in my photos above))?

        Like

      • becomingjapanese August 20, 2009 at 2:15 am #

        Yes, just like that!
        Here’s an audio clip from the US:

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 20, 2009 at 2:35 am #

        It says “the deafening sound of cicada”!

        Japanese people never call 蝉 “deafening”!

        Like

  3. becomingjapanese August 19, 2009 at 5:37 pm #

    It depends on where you are at. In Iowa you can hear them every summer, but some years there may be a larger number cycling, and there will be a lot more than usual.

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 19, 2009 at 6:51 pm #

      You have Cicada in Iowa every summer?
      I guess they’re not 周期ゼミ like I heard are in America. What kind are they? “Japanese cicadas”?

      Like

      • becomingjapanese August 20, 2009 at 12:31 am #

        there are 2 different types:

        Periodical cicadas emerge in specific locations once every 17 years in the northern part of their range, and once every 13 years in the southern part. Different groups called “broods” emerge somewhere in the eastern United States almost every spring. Massive brood emergence is believed to overwhelm predators, which are mostly birds. This ensures that enough survivors will be left behind to reproduce. Male cicadas are capable of making a loud buzzing noise and squawk when disturbed. The males often synchronize their buzzing in trees which produces a deafening noise. It is believed that such droning and squawking is effective in deterring predators.

        The “dog-day” or annual cicadas appear during the long summer days of July and August. These cicadas have two to five-year life cycles but their broods overlap and some appear every summer. Dog-day cicadas are larger than periodical cicadas and have green to brown bodies with black markings and a whitish bloom. Their wings have green veins. Annual cicadas do not ordinarily cause much damage.

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 20, 2009 at 1:12 am #

        Sounds quite different from cicadas here in Japan.

        Like

  4. naoko August 19, 2009 at 10:42 am #

    せみ+ふうりん sounds make me feel cool!

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 19, 2009 at 1:23 pm #

      Yes. And in America, there’s no 蝉、風鈴、花火 (except on July 4), かとりセンコウ、スイカ、 祭、etc.

      It doesn’t really seem like summer!

      Like

  5. Sir Pent August 19, 2009 at 2:58 am #

    I remember one summer growing up in central Illinois they were every. Those “husks” they leave behind were all over the place.
    I rarely see them anymore.

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 19, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

      That’s because cicada are underground in their eggs between 7 -17 years (depending on the species) before they hatch are burrow out.

      Most of the ones in Japan are underground for 7 years…but the eggs are laid every year, so there’s a cycle of cicada every summer in Japan.
      That’s why cicada are seen and heard every summer in Japan.

      But, I’ve heard, that cicada were brought to America from another country once and they were the species that takes 17 years to emerge from underground.

      So, in America, cicada are only seen once every 17 years! I don’t remember ever seeing cicada in America…but I’ve only lived there until I was 20–it’s possible there were cicada when I was very young so I don’t remember them.

      Like

    • tokyo5 August 19, 2009 at 5:09 pm #

      I just looked online.

      America has “Periodical Cicadas” (in Japanese: 「周期ゼミ」 (しゅうき・ぜみ)).

      They emerge every 13 or 17 years…at once.
      As I wrote in the comment above, Cicada in Japan stay underground for 7 years…but emerge in cycles–so every year a group emerges.

      Also, America’s 周期ゼミ (Periodical Cicadas) look different than アブラゼミ (Japanese Cicadas).
      The American variety are smaller…and black!

      Like

  6. gigihawaii August 19, 2009 at 2:12 am #

    haha. You must be on an INSECT kick these days. What’s with all the insects? You wrote about the artist that liked to illustrate insects, and now this.

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 19, 2009 at 12:58 pm #

      >You must be on an INSECT kick these days.

      Because it’s summer and there are so many at this time of year.

      >What’s with all the insects?

      Bugs are interesting (except of course, mosquitoes, roaches, etc.). 😉

      >You wrote about the artist that liked to illustrate insects, and now this.

      Chikabo Kumada died a few days ago, that’s why I wrote about him.

      Are there many types of insects in Hawaii?

      Like

  7. alice August 18, 2009 at 8:36 pm #

    I realised recently that I only ever go to Japan to visit my relations in the summer, so to me cicadas are the sound of Japan! However this year I am coming over in November so I guess the cicadas will be long gone? I am a little sad that I will be missing them : )

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 18, 2009 at 8:45 pm #

      You’ve only been to Japan in the summer?
      Spring, Autumn, and Winter are all very different in Japan…and all nice in their own way.

      How many times have you visited Japan?
      What part of Japan do you visit?

      Like

  8. bk201 August 18, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    When cicada’s chirp, it makes sleeping extra hard!

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 18, 2009 at 5:15 pm #

      You think so?
      I, myself, can fall asleep easily. No matter how noisy or bright the room is.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: