Anyway, to belie all that is written above, and to satisfy those who like the bicycle tales and travails, there is this:
As seen above, I did take my bicycle out to the park the other day. The sun was just setting, so it was 7 o'clock oddish - the shades of the sun, peach strained through muslin. I stayed quite late. It was dark by the time I left. And it was warm. So I had a mango-ice, as they are called here, and said hi to the little green frogs that were jumping all over the vending machines.
Anyway, bicycle travails. I wanted to see the fireflies (hotaru). Apparently there are some areas near here where they light up the mountains like a Christmas tree.
Picture not taken by me, and can be seen in its orignal context here.
I was told that the park might have these hotaru, fireflies. They hold a place dear in the Japanese heart, along with collecting crickets, I think, and other insects, in summer. In fact, some of you have probably seen videos of the battles that go on between stag beetles. They, too, are collected and nurtured in summer.
A colleague was interested in seeing the fireflies with me, but as I was cycling (the park is a 40 minute ride) and was not really sure that there would be any fireflies, I went on a whim by myself after work one day. Naturally enough, being the logical person I am, it was leading up to a full moon. In fact, it was very close. In fact, it was so bright when I was walking around the park that I had no need of artificial light at all.
I had heard from only the vaguest of sources that there might be fireflies at the park. Conditions have to be just right (such as there being no moon). That was another reason for deciding to go solo. I had a feeling that a glimpse of the fireflies was going to be even more transient and ethereal than the blooming of the sakura. But I had some hope.
I saw one.
Then I stood very still and I saw another.
Then I stood very still in the way that I did when I climbed the hills just outside of Cairns as one wallaby hopped into view, and another grazed nearby, and if I held my breath another magically appeared and another and another
And I stood very still.
And I saw the original one flashing very brightly like a very miniature Moses in the bulrushes. And I held my breath
And I saw one other flashing in the trees.
And I stood very still.
… … …
Well, you know, it would have worked for Harry Butler.
He only has one video. I'm surprised. I guess he's been superseded by the Bushtucker man, and that ubiquitous and cannonised Steve Irwin.
I wasn't disappointed, though, but was glad that I went alone. The colleague who had wanted to come is Japanese, and I had enough of my own inner monologue to contend with, let alone having her imagined monologue crowd my brain. It would have gone something like this: Stupid gaijin, what makes her think she knows when the fireflies are going to glow? What are we doing walking around a deserted park in the half dark? And we saw one, one lousy firefly (oh well, two really, but the first one was the brightest), and these damned mosquitoes...
Regardless, nature and moonlight is a buzz, and I got to take a photo of a firefly of a different kind:
It's really a very beautiful park, and very Japanese, and kind of freaky and sad to find all these corners lit up with vending machines. By the same token, they probably keep the ghosts away, or help them to slake their thirst when they need a drink. There is a haka (cemetery) just along a side path after all, though it is away from the bright lights.
And on the trip home, travelling through the rice fields which are bright green in ripening (though rather black in the night), here and there I saw an insect or two flitting about - small lights against the sky.