I know that this is not a topic everybody wants to talk or read about, but if you consider living in Japan – or if you already live here – then you will have to deal with those disgusting little critters. Cockroaches in Japan can become a huge nuisance and you should learn how to get rid of them if they have invaded your Japanese domicile.
Just yesterday I encountered the first roach of this year in the middle of the night, but I was well prepared, so the “fight” didn’t take long. I was the happy and proud winner! :D
Cockroaches in Japan:
Before moving to Japan I already heard a few horror stories about roaches invading apartments. I was worried.
However, in my first year I never “met” any cockroach.
I felt safe enough and didn’t expect that it could ever become a problem for me!
But one day in autumn I came home late from work and I heard a scratching sound. It was a roach quickly hiding behind a paper box. At first, I wasn’t even sure if it was a cockroach or not. Until then I had never seen a roach in my life!!
Without confirming what exactly it is, I tried to chase it with a fly swatter, but it was way too fast for me! I couldn’t hit it.
Eventually it hid in a box and I just took the box with the roach in it and put it out on my balcony. The next day the box was empty.
After that I spent the whole weekend cleaning my apartment, trying to find more roaches, eggs or their nest.
As you can see, I had no idea how to deal with cockroaches!
In my home country Germany (and my German readers will confirm that) you’ll only find roaches in super dirty places.
I just thought that my apartment maybe wasn’t clean enough.
How wrong I was! There were so many things I had to learn!
And I think I should share them with you, so that you’re better prepared than me.
How to deal with cockroaches in Japan:
Japanese houses and apartments have generally a pretty bad insulation. That’s why Japanese houses are extremely hot in summer and freaking cold in winter! It also means that insects will be regular (unwanted) visitors to your domicile. Most of them aren’t dangerous, but disgusting!
Just keep in mind that you can’t prevent cockroaches from coming, but there are a few measures you can take to keep these “encounters” as rare and as short as possible:
Very common are sticky traps. There’s no poison involved, so you can use it even when you have babies, little kids or pets around. They are very simple to set up and not too expensive.
One of the most popular brands is “Gokiburi HOI-HOI“, but other sticky traps will do the same job.
As everything in Japan even gokiburi (ゴキブリ, Japanese for cockroach) are presented in a cute way!
The traps work in a simple way. A roach will smell the food bait and crawl inside the “house” with the sticky floor and then it’s game over. Personally I have never caught a roach with it, but I’ve seen them in traps at my workplace.
One good thing about these traps is that you’ll capture other critters with it as well. I’ve had mosquitoes, spiders and even a mouse in there once!
Another item I use are so-called “gokiburi dango“. There are several different types (not all of them are called “dango”), but they all work pretty much in the same way.
Photo Credit: Amazon Japan
Again it works as a food bait. Roaches will eat the poison and eventually die. As disgusting as it is, but other roaches will eat the excrements of their fellows and that’s how the poison will effectively spread. It also affects the eggs, so eventually you can get rid of a whole nest if necessary.
The best weapon:
All the previous measures are meant to get rid of roaches that you won’t meet.
Unless you have a real infestation, you won’t see them during daytime. We once had so many roaches at my workplace that they were walking around even during daytime and into the classrooms, far away from the kitchen. Very creepy!
If you encounter a cockroach the measures above won’t help you. You need to get rid of it and that as quickly as possible as those little bastards are fast!
- Do NOT use normal insect spray as it won’t affect them – unless you use the whole thing.
- Do NOT try to hit them with a swatter (like I did) as they’re too fast and they might spread eggs when being hit.
The best weapon you can use is this:
It’s a spray called “Gokijetto” and it is made to kill cockroaches. It’s not meant to be used on other insects.
It’s very strong and will kill the roaches very fast. Just be careful not to use too much of it and to air your room afterwards or it might affect you as well.
When I used the spray for the first time, I overdid it and had a headache for many hours afterwards.
Especially for us girls it’s great as it has such a long “pipe”. We don’t have to get too close to the creepy crawlers!
There are a lot of different things you can do in order to fight gokiburi.
Apart from the products I introduced here, you can find a lot more. Every drug store and most supermarkets will have sprays, poisoned food baits and sticky traps. If you can’t find them, ask for “gokiburi kujozai ” (ゴキブリ駆除剤).
While it’s true that roaches will invade your home even if it’s clean, it’s always a good idea to keep everything neat, especially your kitchen! Cockroaches like water, so make sure that the area around your sink is dry and that there are no food leftovers anywhere!
You should make sure to seal your domicile as much as possible. Roaches might come in through the sink plug hole, the air-conditioner, even the front door – thanks to the bad insulation.
Some people say that gokiburi don’t like the smell of lavender, others say they despite the smell of hinoki (ヒノキ, Japanese cypress).
I personally use a lavender room spray, but mainly because I really like it! I can’t tell if it helps to keep cockroaches away or not.
Know when to expect them:
There are good news! In winter there are no cockroaches. Usually from November to March you won’t see them at all. In colder regions like Hokkaido the “cockroach-free” time is even longer! Although I fear in Okinawa you might have them all year round.
There’s even a “cockroach forecast” (
gokiten.varsan.jp), so you can check out if it’s “gokiburi season” in Japan or not.
There’s also a community, so you can whine about your most recent encounter and share it with millions of other “victims”.
How about you?
Do you mind cockroaches at all?
Have you ever encountered one? How did you deal with it?
Are roaches a problem where you live?