This is one of those moments that make me realize I live in a land with a vastly different food chain than my fair Ohio. At Nango Junior High School, Flora’s school, they discovered a seakagokegumo (せあかごけぐも) spider. The Japanese certainly have a way with naming things. I had the name explained to me, but I am now going to pass this off as if I knew it from the beginning:
せ (se) means back
あか (aka) means red
ごけ (goke) means widow
ぐも (gumo) means spider
so せあかごけぐも (seakagokegumo) means “red backed widow spider.” That sound like a spider we American know and loath? Ringing any bells? Well, guess what? It is either the Japanese name for the “black widow,” or a close relative. Here’s a picture of the monster. It is a very dangerous spider, which upsets me because I want my dangerous spiders to have short names so that this never happens:
ME: “HELP! I have been bitten by a seaku… no… seakag… umm…’e’... I have been bitten by the seakagokegu… (DIES)”
I have seen a few cockroaches here as well. They are easily as long as my index finger. I don’t know which I dislike more, the dangerous or the massive. It is also a rather unsettling thought that, because this is Japan, I sleep pretty much on the floor. Perhaps my data set is badly corrupted, but it is my experience that you are more likely to encounter an insect on the floor than say, in your bed that has a Raid™ moat around it. Knowing what is out there and how close I am to it, kind of messes me up. I am an armchair etymologist. I will sit through any Discovery Channel special about the most horrid and unimaginably vile insect (likely candidate: the bot fly), but I do not like to interact with insects; even the mundane harmless ones. So the whole giant bugs(!) & deadly bugs(!) thing isn’t sitting well with me. Where are the high order mammalian insectivores when you NEED them?
Okay, Japan does do one high order mammalian insectivore really well, that is the bat. They don’t eat seakagokegumo or giant cockroaches, but they are otherwise awesome. We went to a really nice big park in Daito, higher up the river, a few days ago and played a little Frisbee close to dusk. Suddenly the sky was filled with about 100-200 bats. It was really surreal because in Ohio you will occasionally see one or two bats working a street light, but there were so many in the sky that night. It was so cool. They were too small and fast for my camera to capture, but I will remember it clearly, and fondly, for sometime. It reminded me of the opening scene to Batman Begins with all the bats pouring out of Gothem. It was just like that, only not CG, and the bats didn’t make the bat signet, and it was in a park rather than the urban cityscape. Okay, the only similarity between the two is that the opening scene of Batman Begins featured a lot of bats, and I happened to have recently scene a lot of bats.
The final horror is the horror of my alarm clock. Sometime last night/yesterday, it started to gain time. By the time it registered my 7:20 wakeup bell, it was actually closer to 6:00. When I discovered this I was NOT pleased. I was already fully dressed and doubted I would get back to bed. So I endured the horror of waking up approximately 1.5 hours early. Luckily, tomorrow is a day off, so there will be sleeping in and a trip to Yodabashi Camera to get a new clock! Perhaps there is a side passage in the Underdark that I have overlooked. Perhaps, I have missed a crucial tunnel and the North-West Passage is real. Another visit to Yodabashi yields another attempt at glory.