Archive | insects RSS feed for this section

Giant caterpillar

26 Aug

Look at the giant caterpillar that I saw this morning!

2013-08-26 07.52.51

Advertisements

Young semi-chan

8 Aug

We were lucky enough to see this 蝉 (cicada) shedding it’s molt near our house!

image

Pet fads

11 Feb

When my kids were little, they each had a 「たまごっち」(“Tamagochi”)… the Japanese electronic “pet” toy.

image

I hadn’t thought about those toys in years.
But I was talking to my kids today. I asked them if they remembered their old Tamagochi toys (they do).

So I told them about some of the “pet fads” that were popular in America when I was young (these never caught on in Japan though).

When I was little, there was always an ad in the back of comic books for “Sea Monkeys”.

image

I convinced my parents to buy these for me once.
What a disappointment!
They were nothing like the picture!

Another big fad of the 70s was the “Pet Rock”.

image

I was never interested in having a pet rock. The name wasn’t a joke or ironic … it was simply a stone in a cardboard box!

It was popular for a short time though … so I guess many people had one.

Another pet fad that didn’t interest me was the “Invisible Dog”.

image

It was simply a stiff dog leash with no animal.

I don’t know if they’re “fads” or not, but I also had a Venus Flytrap (ハエトリグサ) once and an antfarm (蟻の農場) another time.

What are your country’s summer traditions?

10 Jul

Summer in Japan is very 蒸し暑い (“muggy” / hot and humid).

“Beware of heat stroke in the hot summer!”

Florida, where I grew up, is also hot and humid during the summer. But, unlike Japan, I don’t recall any particular traditions of summer in Florida…other than going to the beach or water-slide parks.

Japanese people like to celebrate the uniqueness of the seasons of the year. There are traditions in autumn, winter, spring and summer in Japan.

A few of Japan’s summer traditions are:

Summer festivals and fireworks shows.
Japan has 祭り (festivals) all year round…but there’s an abundance of them in the summer. And in late July to early August, there are many excellent 花火大会 (fireworks shows).
Click here to see my listing of summer festivals in the Tokyo area.

● スイカ割り (“Watermelon smashing”)


This is a Japanese summertime tradition that is similar to Mexico’s piñata. In both traditions, people take turns being blindfolded and try to hit the target with a stick, but in Mexico, the target is a kind of paper doll filled with candy that gets hit until it breaks open, Japan’s スイカ割り (“Watermelon smashing”) has a watermelon as the target. Once the watermelon gets hit and breaks open, everyone enjoys eating it.

● アナゴ (freshwater eel)
Eating eel is believed to give stamina to survive the grueling summer heat.
Click here to read a post that I wrote about it.

蝉 (Cicadas)
Every summer the 蝉 (cicadas) can be heard chirping in Japan. It’s considered one of the sounds of summer.
I wrote this post about the cicada in Japan.

● かき氷 (Shaved ice)

Eating shaved ice with a sweet syrup flavoring is a popular way to people to stay cool in the summer in Japan.
If you want to buy a  かき氷 (Shaved ice) in Japan, you can find them when you see a flag or poster that looks like this:

The character is 「氷」 and means “ice”

● ビアガーデン (“Beer garden”)

In the summertime, many places in Japan offer space to drink beer outdoors (and often on the building’s roof) in the cool night breeze.
Some places offer an “all-you-drink” (within a time limit) special.

●Pools and beaches

Of course, swimming is popular in the summertime in Japan just as it is in Florida.
Pools and beaches in Japan have lifeguards on duty and very few are open year-round.
Most of them are opening around now. Toshimaen, an excellent amusement park / waterslide park / pool in Tokyo opened on weekends only beginning July 2nd this year and will be open everyday from July 16th until September 4th.

What types of traditions does your country have in the summer?

Pet contest

29 Oct

I like animals a lot (but not as much the the famous animal expert “Mutsugorou-sensei” 😉 ).
We have a cute pet turtle and we’ve had a cat, rabbit and a bird in the past…and every summer we have a few カブト虫 (Japanese Rhino Beetles).

We also like to visit the many zoos in the Tokyo area and also look at the cute animals in pet shops.

I found on the Yahoo! Japan the 「Yahoo!ペット・コンテスト」 (“Yahoo! Japan Pet Contest”).

On this site people can upload cute photos of their pet and visitors to the site vote on the best ones.

Currently this cat is in first place on the Yahoo Japan Pet Contest.

This one's in Second Place now.

Third Place.

Of course, not all of the pets are cats. There are also cute photos of people’s dogs, hamsters and rabbits. I even saw a pig and a ハリネズミ (hedgehog) while I was browsing through the photos.

Here are few more pictures that I liked:

 

Do you like animals too? Do you have a pet?

If you want to look at the 「Yahoo!ペット・コンテスト」 (“Yahoo! Japan Pet Contest”) then click here.

日本の夏

18 Jun

It’s now summertime.

Currently it’s 「梅雨」 (“Rainy season“) in Japan. As usual for this time of year, it’s forecast to rain a lot for the next few days.
But also, the temperature is rising steadily and it’s quite humid. Today it was a muggy 31°C (88°F) in Tokyo.

Summer is hot and humid here…but it’s still very enjoyable. There’s so much to do.
Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer are all very different in Japan. Of course the weather is different…but I mean the food, festivals, and general atmosphere is different and unique to each season.

In a couple of earlier posts I mentioned that fast-food chains in Japan have spicy items on their menus  (Click here to read one of those posts)…but fast-food isn’t a traditional Japanese summer tradition of course, and actually their spicy summer foods aren’t extremely popular in Japan (I haven’t even tried any of them).

There are traditional foods that are very popular in Japan during the summer to help you deal with the summer heat.
Some of them are:

冷やし中華 (“Hiyashi Chuuka“). Cold noodles, cucumbers, ham, tomatoes, and cold soy sauce.

スイカ (watermelon)

かき氷 (shaved ice)

ビール (beer)…Popular all year long, of course. But excellent to help you cool down in the summer.

うな丼 (Freshwater eel on rice). This is said to help keep up your stamina in hot weather.

うな丼 (Freshwater eel on rice). I enjoy this dish a lot!

Some other aspects of summer in Japan include:

– the beaches and pools become crowded. Especially in August.

– the numerous summer festivals including 花火 (summer fireworks shows).

insects. The “sound of summer” in Japan is the chirping of the セミ (cicadas). There are also カブト虫 (beetles)…and, unfortunately, ゴキブリ (cockroaches) and (mosquitoes).

蚊取線香 (mosquito repellent incense).

蚊取線香 (mosquito repellent incense) often is shaped like a pig

To stay cool, there’s also ウチワ and 扇子 (types of paper fans), and ジンベイ and ユカタ (traditional Japanese summer clothing).

This isn’t an all-exclusive description of a summer in Japan, of course. It’s difficult to describe…you should come to Japan in each of the seasons and see “four different Japans”.

What’s summer like in your country?

Spiders

27 Nov

I remember about fifteen years ago, it was on the news here in Japan that some Australian Redback Spiders were seen in Western Japan. And that someone got bitten by one.

They assume that the spiders hitched a ride to Japan onboard a cargo ship from Australia.

It was big news in Japan at the time because the Australian Redback Spider is a very poisonous spider in the Black Widow family…and before that Japan had no poisonous spiders.

Australian Redback Spider

In Japan, there are hornets, centipedes, and a few poisonous snakes…but until this spider arrived in the mid-’90s, there were no poisonous spiders here.

But after that initial news story, I had forgotten about that spider because there was no more mention of it on the news…and also it was seen on the other side of the country.

But the Australian Redback Spider is back in the news here in Japan again.

It seems that the population of this spider has greatly expanded in Japan.
The news said that this spider has been seen in other parts of Japan now too.

I guess the Australian Redback Spider has become a permanent resident in Japan.

It’s a dangerous spider but there is an anti-venom for it’s bite so there hasn’t been a single case of a person dieing from this spider’s bite in decades.

It’s unfortunate that the Australian Redback Spider has come to Japan…but at least the highly venomous (and creepy) Australian Funnel-web Spider isn’t here!

The "Australian Funnelweb Spider" has large fangs and a deadly venom