The difference between the nature of Colorado and that of Akita is based on the humidity. Akita is so much wetter than Colorado, so the plants and flowers thrive in a way they never could in Colorado—and so do the bugs.
Oh my gosh, the bugs. Colorado does not have bugs; not compared to Akita. The sheer number of them left me speechless and hallucinating crawling sensations on my skin while I tried to sleep. The spiders were the worst. During the day they'd go off to hide in some cool hidden nooks, thankfully out of my sight, but at night they came home like commuters rushing from cubicle jobs. They hung over every single entry way, dangling lightly, making most doors impassable. I had to rush under them, squealing like a child, for fear of them dropping onto my hair. When I was walking through the streets at night, or through the forest during the day (I didn't go at night), I would find the webs of the rumored giant spiders that I, thankfully, never actually encountered. I am so grateful, because those webs were huge. Giant. Enormous. They spanned at least three feet wide, often more. I cannot even imagine a spider big enough to make them.
And it wasn't just the spiders that were big. There were beetles as long as fingers and twice as thick. The dragonflies, fed fat on the numerous mosquitoes, sounded like lawnmowers when they flew by my ears. Justin (my boyfriend) even saw a caterpillar a foot long and almost two inches thick, scooting along the sidewalk. Can you imagine the size of the butterfly or moth THAT thing became?
There was a stairwell near my dorm that once served me as a convenient quick route back to my room, instead of going all the way around. That convenience ended around July, when the bugs deemed that staircase the perfect place to go when their lives were ending. So many dead beetles found those stairs as their final resting place. I once stepped on one by mistake on my way to class. It made a large crunch, and when I looked, I expected to see the bug in shatters. Instead, its exterior skeleton sprung back into place, and it looked almost alive. Gross.
It wasn't all disgusting, however. The dragonflies in Akita are beautiful, brilliant colors. From a safe distance, even the spiders are kind of cool. Check out the picture below of a spider I found with a leaf for a house.
Another friendlier, more welcome animal presence in Akita were the numerous cats. There are a huge number of stray cats in Japan, perhaps because of all the seafood. They tend to gather in large groups wherever there are enough people to pamper them, and the AIU campus was one such hotspot. Each cat we encountered was sweet and docile, accepting our coddling with almost princely satisfaction. I often passed laundry hours by spoiling the nearby cats, or watching them have small territorial disputes. On paper, AIU had to periodically get rid of the cats—in the worst sense of the phrase—but the lady in charge of the distasteful duty always made as much noise as possible when she was supposed to round them up. With such ample notice, the cats usually made an easy get away, going on to live another day fed by bleeding heart students who left out cans of food bought from the convenience store.