Something touched my foot – living with bugs in Japan.

Yesterday evening I was taking out some trash to our main trash can on our balcony while talking to my mom on the phone, as I was about to step back in something big was fluttering on one of my bare feet, I opened the door and trying kicking away to make sure it didn’t follow me back inside while uttering “ew ew ew!”.

Based on the huge size and dark color, I am pretty sure I was fighting off a cicada, the loud “menace” of the Japanese summer.

My mom noted that she would have freaked out, while my thoughts went back to earlier in the day where I was trying to get a weird bug out of my daughter’s kindergarten bag.

“You get used to it” I noted while making a mental note to keep the balcony door closed for the night.

I used to have overwhelming bug phobias while living in North Europe, so saying I sometimes have a tough time during the warm months in Japan, is an understatement. The very warm and humid climate of Japan makes it a perfect breeding ground for bugs – everything from annoying cicadas, cockroaches, spiders the size of my hands, huge hornets and dangerous centipedes. Huge spiders and cockroaches was actually one of the main reasons why we moved out of our rented house and chose to live in an apartment, which has kept my encounters with the creepy crawlies to a minimum.

We still have a major problem with the small flies. They attack our garbage and quickly follow you inside. They are everywhere! This season I have already spent close to 2000yen (20 dollars) on products to battle these pests, both products to take on the garbage can and products to keep them out of the house. Nothing really helps this season. This morning, the trash can was alive. I mean alive. From now on, I’m gonna tie every minor trash bag before throwing it in the bigger one.

The summer of Japan is extremely hot and humid, it keeps you sweaty and if you are a bug phobic like me, this season will keep you on your toes. The bugs are everywhere. Cicadas are noisy and drop dead everywhere, literally drop dead down from trees and even the sky, sometimes landing on you. They are so loud that sometimes I look around the apartment to make sure one haven’t snuck inside. Last year, while digging with my daughters in the sandbox I came across a cicada mass grave and that surely made me think twice before I start digging areas close to any trees.

Last summer was also the time that I swore to my husband that I wouldn’t be sleeping in our bedroom unless he found the huge cockroach that got away from him in there. Thankfully, that critter decided to show up after the lights got turned off and things got a big quiet.

Have you ever encountered huntsman spiders before? You will, if you visit my father-in-law outside of the winter season, which is why I unfortunately refuses to visit that house, outside of the months of November-January.

It’s not like you “might” run into one in any other season. You will. It’s guaranteed. A few years ago we were there in October. Big mistake. I saw on average five a day. FIVE!

Huntsman spiders are the size of a small hand, they are fast and for some reason, the ones I’ve come across, likes to walk on the floor. Maybe they just enjoy seeing your reaction to almost stepping on them and freaking out.

Japanese do have a thing with bugs. Kid songs about bugs, lots of books about bugs, they love to catch bugs in the summer time and let’s not forget that Pokemon was based on the idea of bug collecting.

Although I am getting better at dealing with bugs, more in the sense of not panicking when seeing a small spider anymore, I still hate critters and the fact that most of them are huge here doesn’t help. The only positive thing is that I’ve gotten close to immune to insects I might encounter in North Europe. Compared to what I deal with on a daily basis, it takes a lot more to freak me out. Though all in all, I would prefer that all bugs would kindly stay out of my home and since I do not touch them, I would really appreciate if they stopped touching me.

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