You sometimes hear people complaining about Japanese beetles back in the States, but they don’t realize how lucky they are that some Japanese beetles never even made it overseas.

Two varieties of large, hideous beetle exist in Japan – the kabuto-mushi (samurai helmet bug) and the kuwagata (hideous pincer bug). As the names may indicate, one of them has a terrible, samurai helmet-shaped head with enormous horns sticking out, while the other has an hideous set of pincer-like growths protruding from its already hideous face. Both are unreasonably large, around the size of a Starbucks double-shot. The Japanese, who generally harbor extreme intolerance for bugs, and are known to flinch in terror even at the sight of a housefly, have an inexplicable fondness for these two biological travesties, which they express not only by not flinching in terror, but by going as far as to collect and intentionally touch them. People look forward to the sight of these abominations as a happy sign of summer, and I would venture a guess that to the average Japanese person, an encounter with one of them is more welcome than that with, say, a Chinese person.

Children are particularly fond of these two types of beetles, and will expend great amounts of energy (or their parents’ money) in an effort to obtain one of each, so that the horrible samurai bug and monstrous pincer bug can be viewed in the same space. This can only be described as “horrid”.

Though the two breeds of beetle share a number of common faults, such as being terrible, they remain, like Israelis and Palestinians, oblivious to their similarities, and find themselves constantly engaged in petty disputes, such as who gets to eat the slime off the twig or who gets to shit on the brown leaf. These bug-on-bug quarrels are, as you may have already hypothesized, unsavory occasions. The already wretched creatures will grow shockingly livid for two beings with no remarkable amount of brain power, and will proceed to squirm all over one another like Greco-Roman wrestlers. They are also just as nude as Greco-Roman wreslters, suggesting to my dismay that that they’re actually proud of themselves.

A young student of mine brought such a display to class once, and I was mesmerized to discover that the volume of my students’ squeals of glee was directly proportional to my own escalating vomitousness, both spurred by the insects’ writhing deathmatch.

Where does everybody’s tolerance toward these creatures come from? Certainly not from a tolerance-enforced upbringing or any sort of ethical doctrine. Non-Japanese people are all addressed collectively as “outside people”, but hideous bugs are revered as fucking samurai. Did you see those pictures I linked? They’re awful!

Just awful.

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