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Hating On Japanese Bugs

San Francisco does not have bugs. Japan has bugs. No, make that Bugs – You Know The Difference. I HATE bugs. Especially: see above. Here they’re called gokiburi, but a cockroach is a cockroach, YUCK.

This monster suddenly appeared MID-SHOWER last week, feel the horror. There I was in a tiny enclosed space that I couldn’t escape because 1) wet and 2) no clothes, and this 2.5″ monster appears from the drain. I am hopping from one leg to the other making involuntary “iya! iya!” squeaks without a weapon in sight, until I thought of the hand-held shower head. I trained the entire force of Tokyo water pressure on the beast and managed to herd it back under the drain cover, but even though I doused it mercilessly and any smarter creature would have given up and gone back from whence it came, this thing relentlessly poked its feelers out as soon as I turned off the water. Finally, after about ten minutes of drowning, I was sure it was dead. The next day, rubber gloved to the elbows, I cautiously lifted the drain cover to retrieve the dead body and do a fierce victory dance over my enemy. It was…GONE.

Nooooo! Still alive! Still in the apartment SOMEWHERE.

Three nights later, it was back. But this time I had a plan. After chronicling it’s size (see above) because I was sure nobody would believe the magnitude of dragon I slayed, I armed myself with a rubber rainboot and chased it all over the apartment. Up and down the hall, back into the bathroom, where I smashed it down to its molecular components.

Finally, a good night’s sleep. Until the next day, when I saw its evil twin on the stairs outside. This time I discovered…they can FLY. I’d have died happy NOT KNOWING THIS.

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

A young woman dressed as a Gothic Lolita is found dead in a car with two strangers. But the more Yumi Hata learns about her friend’s death, the more she’s convinced it was murder…read more

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

8 thoughts on “Hating On Japanese Bugs Leave a comment

  1. LMBO!!! ROFL!!! OMG!!! Yes they fly. They also bite sometimes. (fingertips, eyelashes)

    I’m sorry honey. I know you were freaked out and I totally feel your pain. I live in The Bahamas which is an island nation also and we get them that size as well. -__-

    We also get some long legged ones (it lifts them half an inch off the ground so you can see under them — creepy) and I’ve even had the honour of killing an albino one. That was even creepier.

    They are disgusting (thats why they receive no honorific).

    Honey even when you smash those things you gatta keep at it — they are resilient and will crawl away. You did the right thing by making sure it was dead dead. (They live 10 days even after beheading)

    Stock up on roach motels, bug spray and Boric Acid. Spray your drain and plug it.

    A quick spray in areas where they may turn up also helps.

    Do this religiously because once they get in they are hard to get rid of. They tend to leave droppings so that others can follow. So look out for those. (they look like black pepper but a bit larger.)

    I’m sure your friends can give you tons of tips. You have to know your basic roach facts when you live on an island.

    • Ahahaha, you made me laugh out loud! I am utterly squicked out by the idea of cockroaches tall enough to see under. Thanks for the excellent advice, and the sympathy, my sistah. We Shall Triumph In The End! (Unless the world ends in a spectacular nuclear conflagration, of course, in which case the only creatures left to repopulate the planet will be giant gokiburi…AIEEE!)

      • LOL!! I love your spirit; you’re gonna be fine.

        Glad to help out. I know I hate them and I grew up with those yuckie-yucks; I can’t even begin to imagine what it must feel like to someone unfamiliar with them.

        Hopefully there will be no end of world via nuclear explosion but least we can kill them with fruitcake. ^_^

  2. Where I live flying ones eat the other ones, so: mixed bag. We are having a bad summer of cockroaches–it is like there are not enough roach motels in the world, sob. One more reason to long for winter!

  3. You have succeeded in throwing me back, mentally, to my growing up years in Okinawa! I am totally creeped out by your very apt description f these disgusting critters! Now taking a few cleansing breaths to calm down — your story made me laugh after I stopped cringing!!!

  4. Oh gosh this story made me laugh but also gave me the heeby geebies!(◎_◎;) I’m actually trying to get a job in Japan and I’ll find out soon if I do get it but the bugs are my greatest fear! I just have to keep thinking of all the awesome clothes and foods, that should get me through it! If I don’t get the job my other option is San Francisco so it’s go to know they are less on the bug side.

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