Semi

閑かさや Shizukasa ya In this stillness
岩にしみ入る iwa ni shimi iru stinging the stone
蝉の声 semi no koe [is] the cicada’s trill

From “The Narrow Road to Oku” by Basho

Summer arrived in the last two days before I left Japan. How does one decide? For the record its not by the sun or the stars, nor by the heat and humidity, but by the cry of the cicadas.

Japan has a thing about these large and unprepossessing insect, named semi in Japanese, which are supposed to call only in summer. The monotonous ji-ji-ji sound which I heard while walking to lunch was probably the large brown cicada which the Japanese call the Aburazemi. If it makes you feel any better, the Latin binomial is Graptosaltria nigrofuscata. There weren’t too many of them, and it was too early in the season for kids to be out trying to catch them. But a few cicada do a summer make.