Pictured: An infant Japanese cockroach (photo taken from Rakuten)
So one thing that they don’t really cover in most of those fancypants English-language living in Japan guides is the fact that there are crazy bugs here. Like nasty, gnarly, size of your fist monster insects that are probably capable of surviving five nuclear winters. They’re absolutely ridiculous and apparently resistant to the frigidly cold climate of Mito, the northeastern Japanese city I now call home.
When I first came to my apartment one month ago, things seemed pretty hunky-dory aside from the lingering stench of cigarette smoke left behind by the last tenant of my place. Sure the bathroom seemed exceedingly dark and the ladder up to the loft where my bed was was crooked but, hell, I could get over those little things. I’m a manly man, after all. But this manliness would soon be put to the test.
Life on my own in a small apartment in a relatively alien city with a climate much colder than I’m used to (snow expected on Thursday) went relatively well for the first day or two. But then my new friend decided to crash the party. Cockroaches aren’t uncommon in Sacramento but they’re usually pretty small, die off whenever the thermometer dips below forty degrees fahrenheit, and still afraid of the usual bug deterrents (bugspray, traps, the bottom of a boot). Japanese cockroaches, on the other hand, are like the hardened ex-cons of the insect world. If you saw one of these things coming at you in a dark alley, you’d be best off just throwing your wallet at it before making a run in the complete opposite direction while screaming like Chekov in the Wrath of Kahn. Seriously.
My new friend is probably the size of my fist with a shell that’s probably thick enough to be bulletproof. He smokes three packs of cigarettes a day and runs a drug cartel from my closet. On occasion, I have seen seen him open the fridge and feast on leftovers. You may not always see him or hear him, but you know that he’s there. Watching. Waiting. Planning his next move, thinking of new ways to make your life a living hell.
I’ve tried a number of proactive measures but he’s too smart for any of them to work. The dude just walks right through the sticky cockroach traps and someone in the administration staff of my household appears to be leaking the details of my planned bugspray raids. I’ve heard cold temperatures are supposed to kill this things off but I’m pretty sure my friend has somehow been altered by Fukushima radiation, resulting in some sort of super-roach capable of breathing fire and devouring entire villages of unsuspecting people. Nothing is going to get rid of this thing, nothing can stop it. Like the aftermath of an unfortunate night of drunken antics, all you can really hope to do is try to contain the damage.
In the battle of man versus bug, the bug has emerged victorious. I give up. Resistance is futile. There’s nothing more to be done. I accept the rule of my new insect overlord. All I ask is that he chip in for rent every once in a while.
P.S. His cousin Larry’s getting out of prison in a few weeks so if anyone wants to volunteer to take him in, just drop me a line. Even if you don’t, he’ll come to stay anyways. Cockroaches aren’t really big on courtesy.