Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

Synopsis: Untangling the web of cultural and historical ties underlying Japan's deep fascination with insects.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Jessica Oreck
Production: Argot Pictures
  2 wins & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
90 min

Kokasasu Beetle!

Oh... I want it!

Beetle King, Beetle King...

I want to buy a rainbow beetle.

I wanna buy a rainbow beetle!


I wanna buy it. How much is it?

- 57 dollars.

- Let's see if I have that much...

Five... Six... Seven...


Maybe that is not enough.

This is not enough...

But I wanna buy this no matter what!

If you have some money,

maybe we can combine and buy it.

This one's a little cheaper.


It's going to be 47 dollars.

Lafcadio Hearn wrote:

"The people that could find delight,

century after century,

in watchlng the ways of insects,

and in making verses about them,

must have comprehended,

better than we,

the simple pleasure of existence".

What then, is embedded in

the Japanese landscape

that encourages such an enthusiasm for insects?

In the 18th century

a group of scholars called

the Kokugakushu,

sought to define the essence

of being Japanese.

The Kokugakushu endeavored

to purify the culture,

leaving behind foreign influences

and distilling fundamental Japanese thought

into distinguishable concepts

that could be applied across art

and everyday routine.

The pre-eminent scholar of the


Motoori Norinaga,

formulated the essential concept of

Mono No Aware,

which characterizes beauty

as the transience of all things.

According to Mono No Aware,

true beauty is found in that which does not last

and includes the gentle sadness

felt as it fades.

Mono No Aware

expresses the capacity of the Japanese

to experience the objective world

both internally and directly,

without having to resort to language

or other intermediaries.

This connection is granted

by the understanding

that all life and nature is cohesive.

All of its imperfections,

all of its fleeting beauty

is part of a whole.

By letting themselves be moved or affected

by any part of this "whole of life,"

they can experience it absolutely;

without obscurity,

in all of its immediacy.

This is the season when

they begin to emerge.

It takes them about three

weeks to come out.

This is the right stage.

This thin line goes to their reproductive

organs - to the testes.

I'm going to sell these as a pair.

Here's the mark, can you see it?

Here's a female.

She doesn't have it.

In summer nights and autumn dusk,

the rush and hum of a thousand tiny voices

fills the air of certain lonesome places,

the cries of suzumushl,

the 'bell insect'.

One poet wrote,

When even the moonlight

sleeps on the garden-grasses,

the song of the suzumushi,

like the crying of a broken heart,

is all that moves in the night.

I love the sound of crickets.

That is why I keep them in my home.

I enjoy the song of the cricket the way

a music lover enjoys his music.

Their sounds are like music to me.

Japanese people have kept

crying insects as pets for all time.

We really love their song.

There are some species of crickets that

cannot cry because they have weak wings.

These species cannot cry.

There are more than 118 species

of crickets in our country.

I was 5 or 6 when I first fell in love

with their crying songs.

Now I am 68 years old, so all that

time I have been obsessed with them.

These are from Shizuoka, by the river.

While the Kokugakushu were striving

to refine the essence of Japanese art,

one humble food-vendor

by the name of Chuzo

was refining the art of entrepreneurship.

On a whim, Chuzo had collected

a few crickets

and kept them confined in his home.

He fed them routinely and they

rewarded him with their nightly chanting.

Charmed by their song,

Chuzo's neighbors asked

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Jessica Oreck

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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