Another minor setback in my attempt to speak Japanese led me to indirectly acquire the largest friggin’ bug I have ever seen in my life.
The story goes a little something like this;
I’m at a temple in Kariya Japan and I meet a guy who’s collecting bugs with his daughter. I think he is grabbing the cicadas off the trees. It is the peak of summer and they are everywhere. Their high pitched whistle gets louder as you get closer to the trees.
He asks me where I’m from, and I say America. We switched topics and started taking about bugs. He kept using arimasuka? Which is like asking if you “have”. I kept saying “no”. As in; I don’t have these kinds of bugs where I am at in America. What he was actually saying was, do I have any bugs on me.
Things got worse when he then switched to asking iru? iru? Which I always screw up and think it is the “exist” iru and not the “want” iru. So I kept saying. “No.” As in they don’t exist where I’m at.
Meanwhile, my son, who speaks much better Japanese than me is quietly following along with the conversation. The whole time he is staring in wonder at the small cage that the guy and his daughter have brought out from the trees. When he hears the iru? iru? part he jumps is with a resounding “hai”. Just when I start thinking what the hell does my son know about bugs in America I realize my mistake.
iru? in this situation means “do you want?” and my son did not skip a beat when the guy asked if he would like some. “Of course I would like a giant bug” was the look on his face.
Sure enough, the guy reaches in to the cage. He pulls out, not a giant cicada which I was thinking was in the cage the whole time, but the largest bug I had ever scene in my life. It was a giant beetle. The infamous Japanese Kabutomushi, with its giant horns and long spiked legs. This bug was the size of a Hot Wheel car with legs and horns. The kind you see in the museum and assume they were only around with the dinosaurs. The guy gave us one male and one female. (I assume so they could fight with each other.)
Kabuto in Japanese means helmet, and mushi means bug or insect. because of the giant beetle’s similarity to the helmet that the samurai used to wear.
A wild Kabutomushi is a common house “pet” in Japan. It is so common that we picked up a cage and beetle specific food at the grocery store on the way home. Yes, the grocery store. The pet aisle at the store literally went; dog stuff, cat stuff, kabutomushi stuff. In that order. I felt like I was in a Mel Brooks comedy skit. To add to the skit. I was told do NOT give them cucumbers. As if the look on my face was clearly giving away my intentions to run out and get some cucumbers. They instead prefer the brown sugar jellies that are conveniently sold at stores. So the kabutomushi loves jelly things just as much as the Japanese people do.
So… we got the cage and brought everything home so that we can live with them on a daily basis…