「ゴキブリ」The ever-present cockroach. Everyone hates them, and despite our best efforts, there are still millions, if not billions, of the little buggers all over the country.
Especially in the heat and humidity of the Japanese summer, the miserable cockroach is and persistent pest irritating renters and homeowners across the nation. However, due to their large numbers in Japan, there are also a large number of solutions to the problem, most of which are affordable and easy to find.
Of course, as with most things, prevention and proactive steps are your best bet. The best way to get rid of cockroaches is to make sure they aren’t there in the first place; in this regard, you have plentiful options in Japan. Especially if you live on the lower floors of a building, preventative measures are a must, as cockroaches are basically just an accepted reality of life on the ground floor in Tokyo.
The first step is to keep a clean apartment; garbage and food waste attract roaches like moths to flame, so making sure to keep your wastebaskets sealed and your sink empty will go a long way to keeping the nasty crawlers out.
Also, making sure to throw away your cardboard waste on time is a good idea, as cardboard, especially when stored outside (on a balcony, for instance) where it is exposed to the wetness of the rainy season, is an ideal home for them.
Also, products and traps such as 「ゴキブリホイホイ」(Gokiburi Hoi Hoi) are great at catching strays, and the enclosed traps make it so that you don’t even have to touch the buggers. Your best bet for placement is near points of entry, such as vents, doorways, and holes in walls and ceilings, such as those used for cabling.
However, if it’s too late for prevention, or you just like to live your life on the edge, there are also a few methods for killing roaches.
Insecticide & Cockroach Sprays
Japan has no shortage of anti-roach sprays, either. Most of these are cheap, being less than ¥1000. These can be found both at hardware stores and on online shopping websites, such as amazon.jp.
The best part about these sprays is that they come in many varieties; while there definitely are harsher sprays that will just straight-up murder a roach, there are also more humane options, for those looking for them. Some of these sprays will just slow the roach’s movements so that it can be scooped up with a cup or paper towel and disposed of in another way.
With the number of options available to the Japanese consumer, the sky really is the limit (quite literally, as Japanese roaches have indeed been known to take flight)!
For those looking for a cheaper way and unconcerned by the need for cleanup, then blunt-force trauma really is the good old-fashioned way to deal with cockroaches. While the pests are naturally resistant to temperatures and radiation, a shoe is just as good of a cockroach-killing option as anything else. However, it’s important to note that this method isn’t necessarily foolproof, as cockroaches can bounce back when you least expect it.
Also, as a quick aside note, when you spray or crush roaches, flushing them down the toilet may not always work out the way you’d hope, as roaches are strong swimmers and have been known to be able to hold their breath for several minutes, so there’s a legitimate risk of a roach swimming back up the toilet and scaring the bejeezus out of you.
These are some elementary tips on dealing with Japan’s premier pests; however, with some spray in hand and some traps laid out, there’s little to fear from them. While they certainly are creepy and disgusting, they’re unlikely to cause you any serious harm; their presence is generally just an indicator of otherwise unsafe or unsanitary living conditions, so preventing them from moving in is often a matter of keeping your home safe and clean.