Last year, Nick posted a YouTube about the singing cicadas of Kyoto.
Before I ever met Nick or Yannick or any of the other great people at Mugenjuku, I watched his video. I remember thinking, “Oh, cicadas. I’ve seen those in Iowa.” (Bettendorf, Iowa, of the Quad Cities, to be exact.)
No, I haven’t!!!
Well, I have, but the cicadas I have experienced in Iowa are nothing compared with the deafening thunder of chirping noise that greets you every time you step outside your door in Kyoto.
Nick’s video gives you a good idea what it is like to stand under one tree in Kyoto. What you can’t tell from his video is that the tremendous noise isn’t an isolated phenomenon. It is every tree in the whole city, day after day. One cicada chirps, but in Kyoto it is like waves of chirping are washing over you.
When I bike to work at English Buffet on Saturday and Sunday morning, I go past Gosho park, which is the old Imperial Palace of Kyoto. From the outside, it is a long stone wall overhung by a dense nest of branches from giant old trees. Biking past Gosho is like forcing your way through a crowd of noise.
This has been going on for over a week, every day. The cicadas are practically the final joke of high summer, the demonic laughter of heat. As I biked to work today, the Sun shone bright and high in the sky at 10 am, assaulting my eyes with the vivid light and shade of Gosho’s trees and the vibrant reds, browns, and greys of Kyoto’s streets. And it accompanied this canvas with a symphony of wavering, taunting insects, letting me know it was their time. No escape from summer.