Summer: it brings the best and the worst out of everything

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Most of the time I post a blog it’s because I don’t want to study or do homework.

Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.

But really, on a day like today, who really wants to be academically productive? Was just met with a decent rainstorm after a week of sunny weather, hung laundry outside to dry on my porch (window open, so I can smell that freshly cleaned fabric scent waft through my room when the wind blows), some lukewarm coffee that, while instant, ain’t half bad, got some brand new air fresheners to spice up my place…

Wait, those air fresheners have a dual purpose?! You don’t say!

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Yeah, that lovely, citrus scented air freshener that looks suspiciously like those air diffusers you can buy at Bath and Body Works actually repel bugs while making your room smell like a Tropicana orange farm.

Well ain’t that lovely? Make your room smell nice and keep the bugs out. Killing two birds with one stone (at the price of only 108 yen, woohoo)!

However, after some personal experiences and research, I’ve found that these dual purpose air freshener/bug repellents are pretty common in Japan. Maybe they are in America too, but I’ve never felt the need to purchase something like that back in the States.

I feel like I live a relatively bug-free life back home. We even have two stir-crazy dogs that want to go outside every freaking minute during the summer days [i.e. our backdoor is nearly always opening at one point] and I normally only see a few ants and maybe a dust spider every once in awhile.

We do take precautions, such as the easy, homemade pest repellent of mixing dish detergent with warm water and pouring on the outside of your home [windows, doors, etc.]. A few times we’ve pulled out the not-so-environmentally-friendly chemicals, but overall, we just don’t ever need to prepare our home for the insect apocalypse.

Like I said before, we had a week of sunshine and warm weather the past week. Perfect weather for jogging, walking, doing laundry [because in Japan the only way to dry your clothes is to hang them out to dry], the usual.

I made some new friends. At jogging club, at the ESS (English Speakers Society) club, with the other international students.

And bugs.

Yeah, I don’t want to see those latter friends on a regular basis.

I’ve been reading articles regarding the summer-bug infestations that normally scare foreigners in Japan. Mostly about mosquitoes  because Japanese summers are very humid, giving those blood sucking freaks the upper hand during June, July and August.

According to Gaijin Pot, Japan comes with guns-a-blazing when it comes to mosquitoes. There’s products you can buy that repel mosquitoes [蚊除け kayoke] or kill mosquitoes [蚊取り katori]. Some of them kind of scare me; like the mosquito coils [蚊取り線香 katorisenko] which is basically burning incense with insecticide in it.

The ‘go-green’ persona in me cringes.

pig

[Photo from Gaijin Pot]

At least they come in cute, piggy holders.

There’s a bunch of other things you can do to repel or kill mosquitoes in Japan and if you’re interested, you can read about them here, at Gaijin Pot.

It’s still too cold for mosquitoes and I think I’ll manage because I live in a particularly cold part of Japan [with the exception of Hokkaido, where they are probably laughing at the Midwestern States and how they reacted to the polar vortex]. By the time I leave, they’ll be just coming out.

However, I’ve still encountered other creatures.

This morning, for example, I got up early to do my morning jog. I usually leave my jogging shoes outside so they don’t stink up my shoe walkway.

I walk out to grab my shoes, lift them up and find TWO CRUNCHY SPIDERS. Just chilling. Underneath my Nikes.

So crunchy you could hear the crunch a mile away when you stepped on them.

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The evidence. I regret nothing.

I’ve seen a few dust spiders in my apartment. They’ve usually appeared a day or two before my usual cleaning/dusting day, so that’s understandable. No freak-out necessary.

But those suckers.

I get back from my jog and go about my normal routine. I run from my main apartment area to my kitchenette, where my coffee-water is boiling. Mix my inst-o coffee and come back to my room and find this fine fellow:

crane fly

[Photo from 4.bp.blogspot.com]

WHY HELLO THERE. I DO NOT BELIEVE I SAW YOU COME IN FINE SIR OR MADAM.

It was just a crane fly. I momentarily flipped a lid because I thought it was a huge a– spider. I shared the freak-out with my friends via Facebook chat:

Jocelyn Russell: F–ING HUGE BUG
                          F–ING KJHSDKJG KD
                          KILL IT
                          SOMEONE KILL KRGHA G
                          F—–

Tasia: OMG

Jocelyn Russell: Dead. By shoe. RIP

Tasia: I was just about to come over
          What kind was it??
          Good job, you’re a brave woman. 

I proceeded to share my spider experience as well, freaking everyone out to an even higher degree.

We decided a trip to the 100 yen store to purchase de-buggers after class was highly necessary.

We also decided to try my ‘soapy water around the doorways/windows’ trick.

Poor Tasia. She was met with some surprising guests [shared via Facebook Chat]:

Tasia: Dear effing eff god.
          I went to go pour soapy water around my door.

Jocelyn Russell: And?

TasiaAnd as I poured, it washed a F-ING GIANT SPIDER out of the crack.

Jocelyn Russell: F- THAT.

Kate: HAHAHAHA

TasiaI started flicking the soap bubbles
          Like, ‘BACK FOUL BEAST’

Jocelyn Russell: I’m literally dying of laughter right now.

We had a field day.

Before I continue, while it may seem like we spend all of our free time on Facebook Chat, that is not the case. This was a special moment where you just have to drop everything your doing and momentarily freak out with your friends.

Moving on.

There’s a lot of other bugs that we may or may not encounter while in Japan. Tofugu doesn’t waste one minute of sharing them:

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[Photo from Tofugu]

Cicadas, those mothers are apparently louder than an Ozzie Osbourne concert. And when they die in the fall, they just drop from the trees, like a bunch of ripe apples that didn’t get picked.

MY GOD. 

Stink bugs, cockroaches, centipedes, the usual. They’ll visit you too during the summer months of Japan. As for cockroaches, apparently they visit even the cleanest of houses.

Lucky for me, that link also provides the ultimate kill-all spray for cockroaches.

My sanity has been saved for now.

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[Photo from Tofugu]

NEVERMIND.

Huntsman Spider. The name itself will destroy everything in its path. It takes no prisoners.

Excepts for humans. They are absolutely harmless to humans.

They are excellent to have in your home! They kill all of the unwanted pests like mosquitoes and cockroaches. Centipedes too!

I don’t even want to mention the Japanese Giant Hornet. You can research it yourself. In a nutshell: it’s deadly, painful and can be found in Japan. Just search Youtube. You’ll have no trouble finding some horrifying documentary on these suckers.

I’m just going to stop writing about them, in fear that they’ll come after me BECAUSE THEY CAN FLY FOR 50 MILES AND WILL COME FIND YOU.

Enough of the bugs. Let’s talk about summer.

I’ve been looking forward to summer since the polar vortex first made my car stop working.

Even Japanese summers, extremely hot and extremely humid, sounds excellent to me.

I’m not joking!

When it comes to bugs, Japan is prepared. I will have no trouble keeping those suckers in check. Most anti-bug products are really cheap/reasonable too!

Of course, I start researching summer life in Japan and come across even more negatives.

Bleh.

It for one, gets really hot, but thanks to the millions upon millions of vending machines, you’ll have no trouble [or excuse] staying hydrated.

People dress pretty conservatively when compared to the United States, so short-shorts and tank tops are generally frowned upon when in public [so I’ve been told]. However, I’ve seen movies and TV shows [Japanese] in which characters are wearing tank tops and the like, so I’m not too entirely sure how true this fashion idea is. I’m just going to have to see how it is really viewed in Tsuru-shi through trial and error.

And then there’s deodorant. I’ve already had problems with this.

As a pre-study abroad student, I was told to purchase most of my toiletry items when I go abroad. Unless there was something special I needed, I should just buy it abroad.

I was not told, however, that deodorant will be close to impossible to find in Japan.

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[Photo from Gaijin for Life]

When I ran out of the stuff I brought from home, I went to the drug store (the morning I was leaving for a trip no less) and found myself spending WAY more time at there then I was planning.

For about $8, I got a stick of deodorant that only lasted me 2 weeks.

2 weeks.

Okay, I am friends with MANY Japanese people. I even go jogging with some of them and I can say they don’t smell.

They don’t smell.

We’ll run for miles. We’ll walk places near and far. They don’t smell. And it’s not because they are wearing deodorant. They just don’t biologically need it.

Apparently this applies to some European people too!

I’m not kidding! 

And I don’t mean to come across as being judgmental or critical. I’m just stating the facts/my observations [in a relatively comical manner].

Japan does have a lot more spray deodorant than stick, so I’ve been using that instead [because it’s a whole hell lot cheaper]. Apparently, spray is used more for “smelling good” purposes instead of my purpose of “I don’t want to smell like my high school gym locker”.

I’ve heard this applies to S. Korea too, where the lovely bloggers from Eat Your Kimchi have shared that it is nearly impossible to find deodorant in Seoul [and unfortunately have to purchase it on the ‘black market’ at a really steep price].

That’s enough of that.

But seriously, summers in Japan seem like paradise to me.

The festivals, the food, the fireworks [not for me, but I can appreciate the love that people have for them], the BBQ [Japan can do it just as well as America].

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[Photo from JAPAN [dictionary] 日本]

I look forward to it!

Bugs and all.

Much love,

J

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2 thoughts on “Summer: it brings the best and the worst out of everything

  1. Erika

    Just don’t think about those creepy crawlers when you are lying in bed waiting for blissful sleep…I’ve heard the average person swallows 10 spiders while they sleep in their lifetime. Oh, you’ll be fine! Coexist, as they say 😉

    Love you,
    Mom♥

  2. Jill

    Going camping this weekend, so your “bugs” entry fits right in. I’m certain to be “feeding” several newly hatched mosquitoes hungry for the taste of blood that’s been missing yet this spring. At least I’ll have deodorant! :o)

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