Biodiversity / Food / Water

September 22, 2013


Bell-Cricket Conservation Ordinance Protects Rich Natural Environment of Azumino-Matsukawa Village

Keywords: Ecosystems / Biodiversity Local government Policy / Systems 

An ordinance to protect suzumushi, the Japanese name for bell crickets, was formulated in Matsukawa Village in Kita-Azumino District, Nagano Prefecture, in September 2010. The village is located in the Shinshu region nestled in the foothills of the Northern Japan Alps. It is a unique ordinance even on a global level.

A bell cricket is a nocturnal insect about 20 millimeters long, and is a Japanese cricket belonging to the cricket family (family Gryllidae). It chirps by rubbing its wings together at night during the summer and early fall, and its chirp is like the beautiful ringing of a bell. According to records, Japanese nobles in the Heian Period (794-1185) put bell crickets in cages to enjoy their chirping. The Japanese have enjoyed the music of bell crickets since long ago.

Bell crickets in Matsukawa Village are reportedly on Nagano Prefecture's red list as a threatened local population. The conservation ordinance is designed to conserve the rich natural environment and the rural landscape of the village through the protection of bell crickets, which have inhabited the local environment for ages and are seen as precious local resources.

Aiming to establish the area as a well-known habitat for bell crickets in Japan, the Matsukawa municipal government will bear the responsibility of trying to use methods friendly to cricket habitat when conducting land improvement projects and the like. The village residents take pride in the local environment of their village, which lives in harmony with the bell crickets, and residents are required to cooperate in conservation measures conducted by the local government. In addition, the government organized a village-wide system for protecting bell crickets, which prohibits hunting them in the protected areas except when the mayor deems it necessary.