Soundtrack of the Japanese Summer: Cicadas


Cicadas are very common in East Asia and they form the soundtrack for the Japanese summer. I took some time this week to record the sounds of the abura zemi (Oily Cicada) (Graptopsaltria nigrofuscata). They are called oily because of the oily sheen on their wings or that they sound like something frying in oil. They are one of the most common 8 or so species of cicada that annually metamorphize to the adult stage from mid-July to early September. On any tree in the neighborhood, they can be seen, singing away all day. One finds dead cicadas everywhere at this time of the year.

The audio below is from the Kasuga shrine in our neighborhood. I recorded there because of the abundance of trees and the lack of sound interference from cars.

Cicadas are a passion for many people in Japan. This website has recordings of all the calls and the Japan Times featured the species in 2002. Thanks to Allana for taking the photo of an oily cicada in Kyoto last week.




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