Hundreds of years ago, Japanese ladies of court kept tiny Bellring insects in intricate cages - because their unique chirping sound had a cool effect in the heat of the summer.
GV PAN ACROSS Tokyo skyline
GV PAN Mohka City beetle farm
CU Beetles in enclosure (3 shots)
SV & GV Beetles being harvested (3 shots)
SV INTERIOR Department store's storage roo??? with woman inspecting insect stock - in boxes
CU Bellring insects singing
CU Woman inspecting Bellringers
GV INTERIOR Children viewing insects on display in shop
CU Beetles in cages
CU Grasshopper in wooden cage ZOOM OUT TO GV
SV Small boy selecting beetle from cage
Initials CL/2207 1845/1940/2225
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Hundreds of years ago, Japanese ladies of court kept tiny Bellring insects in intricate cages - because their unique chirping sound had a cool effect in the heat of the summer.
Since then, Japan has changed dramatically, particularly its environment. Now smog-ridden cities have forced many things, like insects, into rural obscurity.
But that's not the end of it, according to some Japanese children who are reviving the old tradition of keeping insects. The big difference is that these days collectors must pay for them.
Insect harvesting on "beetle farms" is becoming big business because of the children's desire to bring nature into their homes. Mass production methods of breeding are employed, and one farmer who turned his property over to the new craze has tripled his income.
Most of the farm-bred insects are sold in the pet sections of department stores; and they bring a handsome price.
SYNOPSIS: At a time when nature is receding further and further into the Japanese provinces from smog-ridden cities, children have begun reviving an old tradition in an attempt to bring nature back.
This is the Mohka City beetle farm ... which produces the many thousands of beetles being sold to children who keep them in cages at home.
The tradition began hundreds of years ago, when ladies of court kept Bellring insects in intricate cages, because their unique chirping sound had a cooling effect in the heat of summer. Now that old practice has been revived, but on a commercial scale. Insect harvesting on beetle farms is becoming big business. This farm produces over a hundred and twenty thousand beetles for each year's summer rush. Not all these are the old Bellringers ... most popular, in fact, is the Stag Beetle, which has horns similar to those of the Samurai helmet.
When they leave the beetle farms, most insects go to pet shops of the big department stores. This Tokyo store sells insects at about sixty pence, and a bamboo cage to keep them in car cost twenty pounds.
For the traditionalists, Bellring beetles are on sale, complete with their shrill chirping music. Once at home, the insects will eat almost anything and stay healthy, but most mothers are understandably anxious to keep their children from becoming involved in the expensive cult.
The Japanese breeders and retailers are very pleased with the craze. One farmer said he's tripled his income since he went over to beetles. Both producers and sellers agree it's a perfect consumer product ... the insects die at the end of each summer, and more must be purchased for the next hot season.