Sunday, August 23, 2009

What's all the noise about?

No, this is not going to be a rant about the loudspeaker vans passing through the village electioneering right now. Actually we don't get them very often, and being surrounded on 3 sides by mountains mean the slogans echo and reverberate and kind of sound like a Charles Ives piece.

And I'm not talking about the hot-dogging, top gun watching, U.S. airforce jets that scream overhead just above the trees.... though what a huge waste of resources they are......

I'm talking about these guys....


...Cicadas, or "semi" in Japanese.

Just as the frogs quite down they are replaced by the calls of the cicada. By now they have reduced their sound to a random buzzing, but when they first start up they start up in unison. It can be quite eerie, standing in the garden when suddenly all the cicadas in a few hundred metres of forest start up simultaneously.

There are about 30 different species of cicada in Japan, and they have long been celebrated in song and poem. The sound of the cicada used in a movie ( or drawn in a manga "nim nim nim") lets the viewer know the setting is the heat of the summer.


  1. I had forgot how noisy they can be until I read your post. The chinese ones are not that noisy.

  2. That's a great shot, is it an HDR pic? A cicada landed on the balcony the other day, seemed to be lost, but it didn't stop the little fella starting up and drowning out the sound of the TV programme I was watching.

  3. it's not an HDR, but I did use some local contrast...

  4. Good, but too vague. Send everyone to find Lafcadio Hearn on singing insects, for he covers all as well as anyone around today, or better. On my balcony, Englishman, one was caught by a centipede shortly after landing and eaten crunch crunch for hours and that sound is even more terrifying -- what surprised me is how one of my cats could keep clutching a semi between his teeth as it shrieked like that -- I bet it destroyed the young cats eardrums and explains why he never caught a tenth as many mice/miles/rats as his mother!