The insects and spiders of Japan were an unexpected treat for me. I had no expectations at all for what I might or might not see, so everything came as a bonus, and I was surprised by the quantity and variety of what I saw.
Beetles are by far the most common type of insect on the planet, making up a third of all species on the planet, but I saw few during my time in Japan. However, one of the two I did see was spectacular, not large but extremely beautiful, a Japanese Tiger Beetle with metallic colors, bug eyes and fearsome jaws.
Butterflies were more common, with a very attractive one giving me some great photo opportunities on my first day in Japan, at a shinto shrine in downtown Tokyo. There were three different types of swallowtail, and even a beautiful iridescent skipper which dropped in on a potted plant in a store near Mt Fuji. Finally, there were some interesting looking caterpillars.
There were some great dragonflies hanging around the ponds and streams which are a vital part of Japanese temples and shrines, as well as the stonework of the castles and temples. As well, there was a magnificent deep blue and green damselfly which I was able to photograph at rest and even in flight.
There were other insects, too, like a praying mantis with bug eyes, a stick insect which would have been very effectively hidden except for the conspicuous location it chose to hang out. An insect near the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum did a fair imitation of a hummingbird, forcing me to photograph it while it was flying, like another insect in Tokyo which looked like a cross between a bee and a moth. Three other strange looking bugs seemed more like katydids than anything else.
However, the big find of my trip had to be the spiders, and big is the operative word for the huge and extraordinary Giant Wood Spider which is Japan's largest, and seemed to be everywhere at the Himeyuri-no-To war memorial on Okinawa. In Japan, it's considered lucky to see a spider during the daytime and unlucky at nighttime, but most Westerners would just consider spiders like these unlucky, period! Near Mount Fuji there was a large and very active fat grey spider with horns on its body, as well as an equally large yellow and white striped spider just a few paces away. Other spiders include one at a shrine in Kyoto with green longitudinal stripes, a small one with yellow dagger on its chocolate brown body, and another with a yellow and grey body.