If you have visited Japan during spring and summer out of big cities like Tokyo, Osaka Nagoya and Fukuoka, you may have been alarmed by the variety and the size of the insects in Japan. Compared to those of equatorial, the sizes are smaller and the colours are discreet, it is said that there are more than hundred thousand species existing in Japan.
Since Japan has been rich in insect varieties, people have been taking account of insects which differs from a slight change of the season. In the ancient days of Heian period, aristocrats enjoyed themselves and hosted their guests with various crickets caught in the natural fields outside to play their melody in their gardens. There are many HaikuW (a very short form of Japanese poetry) written with certain insects to render the season or situation which proves that insects have been near to the Japanese daily life. They are also depicted in arts, like UkiyoeW (Japanese woodblock prints) which gave great influence to the Impressionist in 19th century in Europe. For instance, the dragonfly motif of Émile GalléW glass works are said to be the influence of the Japanese arts.
So, if you are not allergy to, afraid of or hate insects, it would be one of the interesting ideas to discover the world of insects in Japan like the kids do here in summer. Moving yourself out from big city into countryside is all the thing you have to do. If you can get an insect net from local stores, it will be interesting for you to catch them and see them close. If you are in Japan during spring to early autumn, we are sure you will be able to watch or catch many varieties of insects which are new to you. And it would be more fun if you go and check the insects that you have seen or caught in a institute like this ‘Oomurasaki Center’ your interest in Japan through insects will broaden.
‘Oomurasaki’ is one of species of butterflies commonly known as the ‘Japanese Emperor’ or the ‘Great Purple Emperor’. Like it’s name, the butterfly has a beautiful purple wings with yellow, white and red spots which stands out in the natural green. Oomurasaki is specified as the
‘National Butterfly of Japan’ by Entomological Society of Japan (not by law or code) for the butterfly lives all over Japan. Still, this butterfly is pretty rare which the Ministry of Environment is designating this butterfly as quasi-endangered species. Nagasaka and Hakushu areas are one of the rare places where you can see them fly during the season while at this Oomurasaki Center and the Nature Park adjoining the Center, you can see them alive in a high rate in the season because the Park has many Hackberry trees where Oomurasaki lay their eggs, which are conserved by the institute.
Even if you come out of the season, the Center has many Oomurasaki specimens as well as other various insects’ specimens of Japan and outside Japan which is fun to look at. They also exhibit life-size diorama of the Japanese woods and forest which you can see differences between your country’s.
If you like children, this could be the place where you could see how the Japanese children get to know and become interested in insects and nature in the season. Many local schools visit here on their nature curriculum to develop inclinations of their students’ nature interest. Even if you are not interested in insects, the Park is a good place for your reading or your nap!
Pity that the exhibition explanations and videos inside the Center are only in Japanese but you can enjoy it enough.
**Top photo by Mori-no-Tousan
Address : 2812 Tomioka, Nagasaka-cho, Hokuto-shi, YAMANASHI Pref. Tel : 0551-52-6648 Fax : 0551-20-4380 Website : http://oomurasaki.net/ (Japanese only) E-mail : Can be sent from their website form 「お問合せ」 Opening Hours : 9:00 ~ 17:00
Open every day during summer holiday season
Closed : Monday (except National Holiday), following day after National Holiday(except the day is either Saturday or Sunday), from 28th Decemeber to 4th January.