Mushi Tori – Insect Catching – Noriko Yasutsune

Feb , 2017

Last year, it was a huge boom of Pokémon GO. Were you hooked on Pokemon Go… Caught a lot of Pokemons or Bumped in a poll or tree?

Did you ever collect the old school Pokémon cards when you were young, what was it you did outdoors during your childhood?

Japanese people are also preoccupied with the Pokémon craze, yet many Japanese children like catching insects too!

Japanese children have many opportunities to interact with insects. Catching and taking care of insects is considered to be child’s play. It’s not just about catching a bunch of random insects; children are taught to go after a variety of certain insects… ranging from rhinoceros beetle, stag beetle, cicada, dragon fly and butterfly.

In summer time, especially during the holidays, children go to parks, forests and rivers chasing after insects. All you need is a long-handled net, a plastic cage and a hat. Everything you can buy from the 100-Yen shop.

To catch insects with a net looks to be easy, but in actual fact it’s quite difficult than you imagine.

These days, pet shops and department stores sell rhinoceros beetle and stag beetle due to their popularity. They are approximately ¥1,000 ($10) and if they are very rare breeds it can cost around ¥15,000 – ¥20,000 ($200)!

Some insect lovers even buy larvae and nurture them till they are fully grown in to beetles. They rise rhinoceros beetles not only for fun but also for sumo competitions. Using beetle’s natural instinct to fight for food or a female, they fight using their large horn in the competition.

Traditionally Japanese people enjoy the changing seasons with insects. When summer hits, one type of cicadas starts making a noise, and they think ‘summer has come!’ but after awhile the noise starts to make you feel hotter. As the seasons change the chirping of crickets becomes self evident that it is now autumn season. Fireflies are often associated with mortality due to their beauty of light and quick passing, a similar feeling of transience towards cherry blossoms. Insects are often referred to in Japanese classical literatures and haiku (poems).

Of course, Japanese children like playing sports, such as soccer and baseball, but also as many children take an interest in catching insects as they do in looking after them. Some even conducting research for their summer school project.

Even though modem technology has distracted us from nature, Mushi-tori is still popular for children. It is one of great activities for families and a great experience for children in summer.

People have speculated and associate Pokémon with catching insects, believing this is where the original concept of Pokémon Go originated from. Finding, catching and fighting them!

In Australia, lots of children are playing sports but no one goes to forests or rivers for catching insects, despite we have a vast array of insects and such a large abundant of nature parks.
Perhaps catching insects would be a new interesting hobby for you?

Instead of finding and catching Pokémons?