Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Seasonal Insanity: Hotaru Viewing

Fireflies in Japan, in the Kamakura parts, usually appear the first of June and then disappear soon after. Surrounded by creeks on two sides, our house sits along a main hotaru or firefly thoroughfare. Japanese hotaru differ slightly from their American counterparts by my observations. They are gentle, short-lived, and slow moving. The thing with the hotaru is the neighbors.

The neighbors come out just after sunset and walk along the canals to watch the fireflies drift about. Children ecstatic with a bedtime routine reprieve are gawking at the blinking lights, running about, and following the canals in the pursuit of fireflies. Overtired children thrilled with the nightlife, whoop and holler. I wrangle them home. It takes half an hour. My husband listens to my tale and dubs it, "seasonal insanity."

Seasons matter in Japan. Once an event is recognized, throngs turn out.

The local shrine which happens to be Hachimangu has an event to "recognize the preciousness of life and the seasons’ passing" whereby they release fireflies just past sunset on the second Saturday in June. This year the event will be on June 9 at 7 pm. The Shrine raises the fireflies from eggs as part of an environmental restoration project. The twinkling firefly lights at sunset will bring out the crowd.

Wherever you are, take a moment to watch the nightlife in your summer/winter evening. Enjoy the quiet glow of the firefly or the creepy crawly sound of the spider or even the itch of the mosquito. We should all know our seasons so well as our Japanese friends.

If that doesn't motivate you, consider running about in your pajamas just past sunset, shouting gleefully, and staying up past your bedtime, fireflies or not. Play is serious work for the seasonal Grinches amongst us. Plead seasonal insanity if you get in trouble with the authorities about the pjs.