The Illustrated Insectopedia - Hugh Raffles (2010)

The Deepest of Reveries

If you get down from the Hankyu Railways train at Minoo, a spa town that begins just where the densely populated Kansai Plain rises sharply into the thick greenery of the surrounding mountains, if you leave the station and walk up the narrowing, winding road lined with small stores selling pickled radishes, seaweed teas, inflatable animals, handmade pottery, freshly battered maple-leaf tempura (a specialty in a town famous for its fall colors), as well as other goods that might attract older, health-conscious, nature-loving people and young families on days out from Osaka, if you resist the pull of the twenty-story elevator ready to whisk you in an instant to the slightly faded but still appealing hot-springs resort complex perched high on the hillside and instead bear right with the roadway as it narrows to follow the stream so clear below that you can count the fish rooting in its bottom, and if you keep walking, slowly because of the intense summer humidity, past the pretty, open-sided pavilion festooned with red holiday lanterns and past the delicately bowed wooden bridge, then soon, as the path curves back around the foot of the mountain, you will see a small space open beside the river and three wooden benches that someone has placed—with the care and attention given to everything here—to overlook the thickly wooded hillside that rises from the far bank of the stream.

We stopped, drank some water, nibbled on sweet tempura leaves, and soon, without talking, fell into the deepest of reveries, immersed in sound, resonating in sound, the sound of cicadas, surrounded by cicadas, a summer symphony of cicadas. A man sat at the next bench and removed his shoes. He rested his feet on the fence and closed his eyes. And as we sank deeper into sound, the wall of cicadas ebbed and flowed, its rhythms changed, its notes found a clarity—or, rather, we found the clarity in them—virtuoso musicians took their solos (I don’t know how else to describe it), a monkey shrieked, a child ran laughing behind us, and the pulsating thickness of melody and tone wove itself around the gurgling of the stream passing over the rocks below. “Have you got your recorder?” Sharon whispered, and I found the digital recorder I use for interviews and placed it upright on the fence. And now we have that sound to play whenever we need to be back in that place, with those trees, that river, those animals, that man. A soundscape of Minoo Park, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, August 1, 2005, in the heat of the early afternoon.