Japan: Living Journal Life In

The Sound of Summer Evenings

With temperatures now up at 37 to 38 C and humidity draining all will from your willingness it is nice to have some kind of agent that might buffer the effects of the heat. Here in Japan sounds have traditionally stepped in to make a psychological difference when the thermometer is about to burst. The most obvious ones are the wind bells that people hang up outside their windows and the bamboo fountains that fill up and drop to the rock base below, where they make a distinct “PUNK” sound, sort of like a hollow wooden replication of a bat hitting a baseball. Japanese also like the sound of suzumushi, a kind of ground dwelling tree cricket whose song sounds like a zithering bell. There are also the calls of bush warblers and oblong-winged katydids, jungle crows and, of course, bubbling streams. But my favorite sound of all, and one that fills me with melancholy and remembrance every time I walk along the paths among the rice paddies while swatting mosquitoes on my legs, is that of the Higurashi zemi, the evening cicada. For me it is one of the most beautiful and haunting sounds in the world.

Higurashi Songs

3 replies on “The Sound of Summer Evenings”

That’s great Miguel. I love the background sounds as well, particularly the cuckoo. The audio and post are a delightful reminder of what it feels like to be warm. Here, we’re weathering a series of violent storms, and the met service tells us a cold sou’westerly’s on the way. Definitely winter. Enjoy the sweltering while you can :^)


Pete, ah the sweltering! Such a joy! Do you know that I find it hard just to type one word on this keyboard because my hands tend to stick to the tabletop from all the sweat that the heat generates? Yesterday I had just taken a shower and stepped outside to walk to the station, and within two minutes I was drenched in sweat and all benefit of the shower instantly gone. The insects and frogs love it, though, so the evenings are filled with them partying outside my window.


Such rich music and so nostalgic for me. You know, I always used to complain about the loudness of the cicada, swore I hated it and never would get used to it. Now, like all violently felt things that are absent, I find I miss it. Thanks for the wonderful “party sounds”.


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