Yesterday, together with the Asuke wasp club, Tetsuo-san from Kushihara, and Takata-san from Kyodo news, we found two wasp nests in the forests near Asuke.
It was great.
Admittedly, expectations were pretty low. It's very early in the season, the sky was fairly cloudy, and the temperature was cool. We wandered through the forest placing sticks of bamboo in the rain-drenched earth, chatting about the whole 'wasp' thing, but in terms of insects, we had only flies and mosquitoes for company. We picked some wild vegetables while we waited for the wasps that never came...
Then, all of a sudden, a little black wasp with white stripes landed on a piece of raw squid - and in that very moment, the day become infinitely more interesting!
But, these nests are tiny. The queen wasp has probably only just started to make her nest, has only just given birth to the first female worker wasps, and they're all doing their very best to raise the new brood.
So we left a marker by each nest, and will dig them up nest Saturday, when they're a little bigger. Stay tuned :)
(This photo, below, shows a wasp emerging from a newly-built nest...)
Fireflies only breed in clean water, and since golf clubs are usually associated with river pollution, my expectations were fairly low for these insects, too.
However, thanks to the work of one man - Miyake Tetsuo, from Kushihara - the water that flows from the Akechi golf course is clean enough for fireflies to breed. When he first began working for the golf club, nearly 40 years ago now, there were no fireflies to be seen. Since then, he's been working hard collecting eggs, taking care of the newly hatched larvae, and most importantly ensuring that there is a clean water supply in which he can release them. The firefly festival is currently seeing its 17th year. Approximately 150 people attend, every year. And their (our) reactions, upon seeing the fireflies light up like stars amidst the depth of the night, are priceless. It's a really, really beautiful sight.
Connecting the dots, one can conclude that this one man has been singularly responsible for the happiness of at least 2,550 people, over the past 17 years. Not to mention the 'happiness' of the ecosystem surrounding the golf course. & If that's not an inspiring Summer Solstice then I don't know what is!
(All photos in this post are courtesy of Takata Naurmi)