Rude awakenings come in all forms and shapes
The arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry's Black Ships in 1853 proved to be a rude awakening for Japan, jolting it out of more than two centuries of self-imposed slumber under the isolationist policy of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1867).
On a much more mundane level, there is nothing more annoying than having one's peaceful sleep disrupted by a buzzing mosquito. It's just my personal observation, but those pesky bugs seem to be out in greater force now than at the height of summer.蚊の鳴くような声
Ka no naku yona koe, which translates literally as "a voice like the whining of a mosquito," is a Japanese idiom that describes a faint, barely audible sound that a mosquito makes. But for the fitful sleeper, the buzzing of a mosquito near one's ear packs enough decibel to jerk one awake.
In dawning consciousness, you swat at your cheek or wherever the offensive noise seems to be coming from. After doing this several times in vain, you are reduced to just swearing and pulling the covers over your head. But within minutes it gets too hot, and you kick off the covers, only to repeat the futile battle.
Obviously, mosquitoes have exasperated people for centuries, and Fujiwara-no Yoshitsune (1169-1206) complained bitterly in his poem: "On summer nights, I can't even get decent sleep because of the buzzing of mosquitoes around my pillow."
The Meiji Era (1868-1912) poet Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) also detested those bugs and called them "assassins," says Satoru Higuchi, a literary critic, in his book "Tanka Hakubutsushi" (History of tanka poetry) from Bungeishunju Ltd.
"You bumpkin mosquitoes," Shiki railed, "you were born somewhere deep in the bamboo forest and don't even know your parents. You lurk in the lavatory by day to sneak up on your unsuspecting victims, and by night you become assassins in the bedroom ... ."
Shiki's writing is humorous, but the poet undoubtedly bore a deep grudge against mosquitoes. "Your very existence is criminal," he lashed out.
There are some 100 species of mosquito in Japan. Global warming has apparently enabled some to move their habitats northward, and experts worry this could expand the areas that are at risk of mosquito-borne diseases.
Living in peace, we tend to forget that mosquitoes are actually dangerous bugs. It has been established that Japanese mosquitoes are capable of carrying the West Nile Fever virus that recently threw the United States into a panic.
Obnoxiously persistent and elusive as they are, it's probably not a good idea to throw in the towel and let them feast on us every night.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 9(IHT/Asahi: September 11,2007)
か 0 【蚊】