こわい, kowai is Japanese for scary. Not to be confused with かわいい, kawaii, cute. Sometimes I have to ask to make sure I heard the word correctly. Sometimes there no doubt such word was used. When referring to these:
the word is kowai. Scary. Mukade. Ugh. I hate these things. In some ways they still scare the crap out of me. In some ways, they’re no big deal…just part of life in the inaka. When you open the front door and one falls on your arm, as this one did, it scares the crap out you. Sets the heart racing and the adrenaline pumping.
I’ve always struggled with insomnia. When I say “always”, I mean for as long as I can remember. Usually, my insomnia takes the form of “I can’t fall asleep.” I’ve tried all kinds of things…pills and herbs and teas and more and it all works at first and then it doesn’t work anymore.
Since coming to Japan, my insomnia has taken a different turn. Now, I can’t go to sleep and when I do finally drop off, I can’t stay asleep. I have seen more sunrises since coming here than I think I’ve seen in the last 15 years.
By the way, the sun currently rises somewhere between 4:00 and 4:30 in the morning. Today it came up at about 4:15. It’s now about 5:00 a.m. and I’m still awake.
I’m still awake from yesterday. I never went to sleep because tonight (or should I say last night) my sleep was more doomed than usual.
In an effort to try to normalize my sleep schedule, I go to bed when Brandon goes to bed. Since it was Friday, we went to bed a little later than usual, but not too bad. As usual, Brandon was asleep within 15 minutes and I was still awake. Reading.
And then I saw it. The mukade creeping up the wall a foot from my side of the bed. Brandon woke up when I loudly said “Uhhh…Babe? That’s a mukade on the wall.”
He woke up grumpy, but he woke up and went downstairs to get the dustpan bucket thing he uses to catch the stupid things. The problem is, when he tried to catch it, he missed and it fell. We couldn’t figure out where it fell, so we were looking everywhere. I think Brandon just wanted to go back to sleep, but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep, so we moved all my bedding out of the way and lifted the tatami mat that it fell onto and we think behind. Unfortunately, we still couldn’t find it.
Not knowing what else to do, we put everything back in order, checking all the bedding very carefully in the process. Brandon was back asleep and sawing logs in about 15 minutes. I was not.
Manmaru went to sleep at the foot on my side, which made me feel better, but I still couldn’t sleep. I stayed up reading and trying not to think about the mukade on the loose.
Remember where I said Brandon was sawing logs? Well, he was getting obnoxious with the snoring. He does this from time to time. Usually, if I can get him to roll over, he will stop long enough for me to fall asleep. Sometimes, I have to sleep with ear plugs. Tonight (or is last night), he wouldn’t roll over and his snoring was so loud the ear plugs did no good.
I finally gave up at about 3:00. I grabbed my pillow and a spare sheet and went downstairs to lay on the couch and watch TV. In America, when I had to do this, I could sleep within about 30 minutes when I did this. Unfortunately, Manmaru had an accident on part of the couch when he first got here and I’ve been struggling to get rid of the smell. When I laid down, it was evident that I still have not gotten rid of the urine smell. I hate to say this, but I think we might have to throw out this part of the couch. I can’t sleep with the smell of urine.
It’s now after 5 in the morning and I’m still awake. The cat has even come downstairs for morning play time and was a little surprised to see me. I’m not sure where he went, but I think he went back upstairs. I’m now sitting here watching Dirty Jobs on Netflix because it’s entertaining and I don’t have to think about it. I’m patiently waiting for Brandon to get up because then I will be able to go upstairs to get a little bit of sleep.
Maybe. As long as I don’t think about the fact that there’s a mukade in there somewhere. Unless it got out somehow. Yeah that’s what happened. It went back outside. It’s not still in my bedroom.
***As a note to anyone reading this that might be moving to Tokushima soon. We live in a very rural, agricultural area at the edge of the forest. Our apartment is surrounded by fields and the forest is just beyond on one side. It’s ideal habitat for these stupid bugs. Most likely, you will not have to deal with as many as we do, if any. Also, you probably won’t have a pet, so you will be able to use the mukade poison that is not pet friendly. It’s going to be okay.***
Those of you who have cats have probably been presented with a gift or two. A dead mouse. A headless bird. Some other equally wonderful little thing that is a cat’s way of showing how much he loves you. If you don’t have a cat or have never had a cat, you’re really missing out. There’s nothing like having a cat jump up on your bed with a nice juicy rat.
In my last post, I showed you giant centipedes called mukade. Since that post, we have now seen a total of eight so far this season. We found number eight this evening. We had the lights turned down low because bright lights attract various kinds of annoying flying bugs and Manmaru was playing at the end of the couch. I got up and turned on the light to see what he was playing with. Imagine my surprise when what I saw was a mukade.
I grabbed Manmaru and Brandon grabbed the scooper to catch the big mukade. As he tried to scoop it up, he noticed it was acting strangely. It was dead. Manmaru had already killed it. I think he had killed it sometime either early this morning or last night because the was the first time I had seen him over there today and he wasn’t throwing power punches. I think he killed it sometime before and came back to play with it.
So what do mukade and kitty presents have to do with each other? Use your imagination, just don’t make me say it. If I say it, then I’ll be jinxed and it will happen, so don’t make me jinx myself.
We’ve had some discussion on facebook about the monsters that are known here as mukade. They look scary as hell and a lot of people respond with something along the lines of “OMG Ohhellno!” and they think I’m crazy when I say I’m more scared of the spiders than the mukade.
Mukade are giant centipedes and we don’t like them. They bite and their venom can cause a serious reaction. If you read about them online, some people say the bites are bad and others disagree. I’ve also heard that, like bee stings, the reaction gets worse every time. I would say to be safe, if we are ever bitten, we’re going to the hospital to get it checked out because I’m not taking any chances. You can also buy kits that will suck the poison out of the wound. We haven’t bought one yet, but I’m thinking we probably should.
These are a couple of the most popular pictures you will find online:
As you can see, they can get quite large. The ones we usually see are much smaller and move much quicker. They seem to slow down as they get bigger, but that doesn’t really make them any easier to deal with.
I have heard that if you kill one, it puts of pheromones that attract other mukade to eat the body, but I don’t know if that is true or not and I have no intention of running any experiments to determine if it is true. Most people kill and dispose of them in such a way that they won’t be attracting anything. The most common method is to boil them and then freeze them. If they have to be smashed or chopped up or whatever, the area will be disinfected thoroughly and immediately.
All that being said, we don’t kill them. With the exception of spiders and cockroaches, I don’t really like killing bugs, especially when they eat things like cockroaches and other bugs. Instead, we catch them and let them go in a nice overgrown grassy area outside away from the apartment.
As scary as all that is, I don’t know many people that have actually been bitten by one. I found one on my arm a couple of weeks ago that scared the crap out of me, but it didn’t bite me. I think they’re one of those creatures that kind of has to be provoked to bite, but again, I don’t know and I’m not running experiments to find out.
Our current count for this season is five. We have found four small mukade and one large mukade in the house this spring. This does not bode well for the reason of the spring/summer, but we’re doing what we can to make our apartment less appealing to them. I folded up all the winter rugs and blankets because they like to hide in them. I put our bedding away every morning. We will be spreading poison outside along the perimeter of the apartment. Oh, and I have a cat. He caught one of the five. He cornered it in a towel on the floor until I can to take it outside. We have been told that bites are not good for him either and we don’t want him to get bitten, but he’s another deterrent.
Here are a couple of pictures of the biggest one I saw last summer. This was outside our front door. I scooped this one up in a net and took further away from our door.
Mukade are a spring/summer bug…much like the spiders I hate so much, so if you’re really that scared of encountering one but want to come visit, come in the winter. It’s way too cold for them in the winter.
Oh, and why am I more scared of spiders than mukade? Uhhh…because they’re spiders, that’s why.
**edit** We just found #6 in the house. I went into the kitchen and Manmaru had a big one cornered in the dust pan. I pulled the dust pan off the shelf and Manmaru came after it and tried to attack it. So the theory about the big ones not moving fast has been shot down. When attacked by a cat, the move REALLY fast. It was like it was in one spot one second and just gone the next. We had to lock the cat in the hallway and tear apart the kitchen to find it. Ugh. It wasn’t as big as the one pictured above, but still big…maybe 5 or 6 inches.
This week has been mostly work, so the photos might be a little less interesting than my previous entries. If we’re friends on Facebook, you’ve also probably already seen a few of them, but I know some people are not linking here from FB, so I’ll add some of the random photos I posted there recently. Work has been very good so far. It’s summer, so not all of the students are at the school each day, but many are practicing with their various clubs, and a few are practicing for an English speech contest which takes place in September. I’m mostly helping with that and the students who are competing are AMAZINGLY talented! I’m very excited to continue working with them and to see them compete in September!
Today I received my first interrogation by a group of Jr. High girls. I was sitting in the teacher’s room when three girls came in and shyly introduced themselves with help from the English teacher. They quickly scurried out, but about 10 or 15 minutes later, all three came back…apparently fueled by a new found courage to speak English and a curiosity about this new person in their school. The questions came as quickly as they could think of them…and decide how to properly ask in English. The very first was my favorite:
Girls: “Ummm…Are you afraid of ghosts?!?”
Me: “Yes, of course! Aren’t you!?”
Girls: “Have you seen a ghost?”
Girls: “Have you felt a ghost?”
Me: (not sure how to answer, but I went with…) “No.”
Then, after breaking the ice with these ghost questions, they were ready to tackle the important, personal questions:
Girls: “Do you like Japanese food?”
Me: “Yes, definitely!”
Girls: “What is your favorite Japanese food?”
Me: “I like a lot of Japanese food…ramen, karaage, sushi…”
Girls: “Are you married?”
Girls: “What country is your wife from?”
Me: “She is from America!”
This went on for a little while longer until the English teacher told them that we needed to get back to work. They seemed satisfied with their information gathering mission. It was quite fun and good to see them attempting to use English on their own! The English teacher told me she was surprised after they left because they are usually very shy. She said they must think I’m friendly. I think that’s a good start
I did manage to make a pretty big mistake at school. I completely understand taking shoes off and switching to indoor shoes at homes, schools, etc. but somehow I didn’t make the connection that you also then take off the indoor shoes when going into tatami rooms. Oops! Won’t make that mistake again!
At lunch I had to go to the garage where I will eventually receive my new car. We met with the insurance salesman who attempted to explain the nuances of Japanese insurance. One of the English teachers came along to help translate, but at one point he turned to me and said “I don’t even understand what he’s talking about in Japanese…I don’t know how I can translate all of this into English!” I also had to practice writing my name (in English) before filling out the paperwork so I wouldn’t mess anything up since there was only one copy. We eventually got the details figured out and I think all is good.
I had a bit of an adventure this evening. I was making rice to go with dinner and when it was ready, the pot inside the cooker was hot, so I went to get the pot holder / glove to get it out. When I stuck my hand inside, I felt something like a stick in there, so I turned it over to dump it out. Out came my first MUKADE!!! Mukade is a Japanese centipede that can get very large and has a dangerous bite. The one today was only about 6 inches long, but I was quite surprised to dump out what I thought was going to be a twig, only to have it start running around on the floor looking for a place to hide! I followed Emma’s suggestion and attempted to keep the peace with the Mukade. I trapped him and released him back into the wild. I guess dealing with the occasional Mukade part of the price we pay for living in such a beautiful area. I am just glad I didn’t get bit!
Ok, I’ve written enough…on to the photo show! Enjoy:
Just a public service announcement…if you’re lactose intolerant in Japan, this is apparently the milk you want to locate.
Getting around to real cooking!
Attempting fajitas in Kamiyama!
Late night shopping in Kamiyama…just me and the tiny frogs. You can see them if you look hard enough…
My stir-fry turned out ok!
It didn’t take too long to find tortillas, cheese, and salsa. But now I need to find BETTER salsa. Old El Paso produced a pretty disappointing product.
I was going to make tacos, but still had some nice vegetables that I didn’t want to go bad. so I ended up with a ground meat stir-fry. It was quite tasty, but a little more oily than I like.
The view from one of my schools! Amazing!
Fajitas make excellent leftovers for a bento lunch the next day!
My first Mukade! Had to catch and release the little guy. Have a good life…but stay away from this apartment, please :)
More regular work for the next few days. If I understood right at the garage today, I might have my car as soon as Friday if the minor repairs get completed! Starting Sunday, I’ll be at Orientation in Tokushima city. Hopefully it will include lots of good info, lots of fun, and then we’re going to participate in the Awa Odori, which is one of the largest dance festivals in Japan. It’s about to get crazy