Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Kao Nashi / No Face

In the old days my neighbor told me that there would sometimes be a single silkworm amongst ten thousand that did not have the markings on it's forehead. Children would look for these rare kaonashi oddities.

This year for some Mendelic reason, half have faces (actually markings on their upper backs) and half are white with no markings at all.

In the Studio Ghibli masterpiece, Sen to Chihoro/Spirited Away, one of these characters showed up at a hot spring for the myriad of Japanese Gods. He ate and ate and grew and grew and then suddenly vomited a tsunami of debris in the bath. The symbolism, like Chihiro's own parents who gorged themselves into pigs was intentional. I wonder what message Miyazki Hayao was making? Like a silkworm, Japan has grown because it consumes endlessly? The vomit is the garbage of daily life that surrounds us? Contemporary Japanese society was built on the invested income of silk exports to the USA in the early 20th century.

Maybe I read too much into this. Perhaps he just hates silk for some unknown reason.

My silkworms are starting to spin this evening. A month sure goes fast. The mulberry field is almost bare. They have eaten several hundred kg from that particular field in the last week. It is still spring and it hadn't grown that much. If they didn't start spinning today I would be searching for good mulberry tomorrow. It is starting to berry and during that time the leaves are slightly smaller and I suspect slightly less nutritious.


  1. i ♥♥ sen to chihiro, actually all miyazaki.
    scary that mendel is sending signs up.

  2. that's one of my favorite films; i never made the connection before now.

    it's like watching ponyo after everything that's happened; it feels wrong to enjoy the movie, and many parts are seen with a new understanding and a different light.

  3. Oh! So that's why the creature was called a no-face! It was the spirit of a kaonashi silkworm