Anyone who has been in Japan for even just a day in the summer has heard cicadas. In Japan, the cicada is associated with the summer season. The songs of the cicada are often used in Japanese film and television to indicate that the scene is taking place in the summer. The song of a particular cicada, called “tsuku-tsuku boshi”, is said to indicate the end of summer, and it is called so because of its particular call. During the summer, it is a pastime for children to collect both cicadas and the shells left behind when moulting. The above picture was taken at the fireworks festival of a cicada doing just that. Ew.
The cicada carries further philosophical connotations of re-birth. Since the cicada emerges from the ground to sing every summer, it is a symbol of reincarnation. Of special importance is the fact that the cicada moults, leaving behind an empty shell. But furthermore, since the cicada only lives for the short period of time long enough to attract a mate with its song and complete the process of fertilization, they are seen as a symbol of evanescence.
While this sounds all lovely and almost poetic, I still think Japan is a little too interested in bugs.