On the morning of 28th September, Kiku was intrigued by the title of the current five-day marker in the old seasonal almanac. He read it as ‘hibernating creatures close their doors’ but as with many of the marker titles he wanted to know more.

Boss Panda was always his first port of call when he had questions. The old bear looked down at the almanac entry and said “ah, well it’s actually a bit early for hibernating mammals like bears or chipmunks, so this should be read as hibernating insects – in fact it’s the opposite marker to the March 3rd one entitled hibernating insects awaken”, he explained to the little fox.  “In this case it particularly refers to beetles like the stag beetle, which is sometimes kept as a pet by both children and adults in Japan. Rhinoceros beetles are also popular but they tend to only live for a year, whereas stag beetles live longer and so need to hibernate.”

Kiku was keen to learn more about such an unusual pet, and so on the morning of the next day, Boss Panda took him to a bug specific pet shop in Tokyo, of which there are several. There they learned that there were different ways to purchase a beetle – it was possible to raise a beetle from its larvae, and you could even unearth the rhinoceros beetle grubs from a soil pit in the store! But once these had metamorphosed into an adult, they only lived for a further three months, so you couldn’t get too attached to them. Adult stag beetles, however, which lived for around three years would hibernate over the winter period, and so specific preparations needed to be made within the housing to allow the beetle to burrow itself into a suitable hibernation spot, and ‘close its doors’ as the almanac poetically noted.  

As the pair left the store, Kiku remarked to Boss Panda, “I must admit, I’m not sure about the ‘live beetle’ UFO machines and vending machines I’ve noticed though!”

The old bear agreed, and so they set off to see some beetles and other insects in a more natural set up, at the Insectarium at Tama Zoo. Kiku loved both parts of the insectarium, from the butterfly-shaped ‘insectopia’ building to the amazing bug mosaics and the large grasshopper sculptures at the entrance to the building. After seeing so many insects in the larger environment, Kiku felt that he would prefer to see insects at the insectarium and in the wild rather than keep one as a pet.

Boss Panda smiled. “Well little Miko-chan will definitely be pleased about that!” Kiku laughed as he remembered the butterfly incident with Miko-chan and Doki-Doki Daruma a few years ago, and agreed that a beetle would not be a good idea at the Bamboo Bathhouse!

Further Information

One beetle specific pet shop in Tokyo is called ‘Beetle-On’ (ビートロン) in Kitamine-cho, a short walk from Ontakesan station on the Tokyu Ikegami line. Address: Ishiyama Building (石山ビル ) 2F, 31-2 kitamine-cho, Ota-ku, Tokyo 〒145-0073

Tama Zoological Park is to the west of central Tokyo, roughly an hour’s train ride from Shinjuku station.  Take the express Keio Line train to Takahata-Fudo station, change to the Keio Dobutsuen Line and get off at Tamadobutsukoen Station.