Why do bugs bug?


Why do we in the West fear and hate bugs yet for many Japanese people, they are beloved pets and sometimes even delicious food?

From a piece by Andrea Appleton in Aeon:

'In old Japanese literature, poems upon insects are to be found by thousands,' wrote Lafcadio Hearn, a 19th century European-American writer who became a Japanese citizen. 'What is the signification of the great modern silence in Western countries upon this delightful topic?'

Not all Japanese, perhaps not even the majority, admire insects. But while Western culture amplifies our perhaps innately human suspicion of insects into distaste and fear, Japanese culture encourages affection, even reverence, for the six-legged. Why?

Daisaburo Okumoto is director of the Fabre Insect Museum. An avid insect‑collector and a scholar of French literature, he has translated many of Fabre's works. He ascribes the popularity of insects in Japan to national character. 'It seems like Japanese eyes are like macro lenses and Western eyes are wide-angle,' he says. 'A garden in Versailles, it's very wide and symmetrical. But Japanese gardens are continuous from the room and also very small. We feel calm when we look at small things.'