And bugs can be mighty big here. On campus, some remarkably large praying mantises are hanging around. Last year, we unofficially made a huge black and yellow spider the mascot of IPMU. And recently, we heard of a case in which a small dog was killed by the bite of a poisonous Asian centipede!
Personally, I suffer a lot from the mosquitoes, which thrive in this humid climate. I seem to be particularly allergic to one kind, which gives me swellings bigger than the palm of my hand. But there’s more than that.
蝉 – semi – cicada
The sound of summer is very loud here. All trees are populated by huge amounts of cicadas in summer. The volume of their song is remarkable. Several different kinds live here, some producing noises that are strongly reminiscent of sound effects in video games. The most common are those that produce a fairly uniform sound (みんみんみ – min min mi in Japanese), and those that go more zrrrrrp – zrrp zrrp zrrp (or うけけけ – u ke ke ke in Japanese). The former seem to be more abundant in the Kyoto area, while in Tokyo, we mostly hear the latter.
Even though some people complain about the noise, I like the song of the Cicadas. It adds to the particular feeling of the hot Japanese summer.
ごきぶり – gokiburi – cockroaches
Maybe you heard rumors about Tokyo being infested by cockroaches. Well, I’m afraid I cannot contradict. After rainy season, I noticed something crawling on our terrace that motivated me to always keep the door closed well. I am not used to this kind of thing, you see. I have never laid eyes on a cockroach before in my life. And the ones here grow to about 5 cm length and can even fly (and, yeah, they do look kinda disgusting). Of course, we were rather concerned about these crawly creatures eventually entering our flat. Following advice from our Mexican friend, we killed two on the terrace by means of a shoe. When we found still more, we decided this would not do. But here, every supermarket (yeah, this fact should have made us suspicious to begin with) sells little plastic boxes with a small hole admitting crawly roaches and poisonous gokiburi bait inside. So we bought a box of these and laid them out on the terrace.
The very same evening, we had one of these fellows walking right in on us in our flat! With the lights on and all (they only come out at night). The truth about roaches is the following: they can run very fast. And they can walk upside down on the ceiling. But they can’t do both at the same time. Which allowed us to corner it with a broom and throw it right out of the window. To be on the safe side, we popped the remaining baits into corners and cabinets in the apartment.
And by the way, the baits really work. Already the next morning I found a dead roach outside, and two more within a week.