With temperatures now up at 37 to 38Âº C and humidity draining all will from your willingness it is nice to have some kind of agent that might buffer the effects of the heat. Here in Japan sounds have traditionally stepped in to make a psychological difference when the thermometer is about to burst. The most obvious ones are the wind bells that people hang up outside their windows and the bamboo fountains that fill up and drop to the rock base below, where they make a distinct “PUNK” sound, sort of like a hollow wooden replication of a bat hitting a baseball. Japanese also like the sound of suzumushi, a kind of ground dwelling tree cricket whose song sounds like a zithering bell. There are also the calls of bush warblers and oblong-winged katydids, jungle crows and, of course, bubbling streams. But my favorite sound of all, and one that fills me with melancholy and remembrance every time I walk along the paths among the rice paddies while swatting mosquitoes on my legs, is that of the Higurashi zemi, the evening cicada. For me it is one of the most beautiful and haunting sounds in the world.
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