Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mollee vs. Spider

I'm not quite sure what the protocol is for an opening post in a blog, so I will keep my introduction brief and get straight to my story. I am Mollee, one of the 1500 JETs selected to be send to Japan this year. I was assigned to a small village in the Kumamoto prefecture and created this blog with the intention of blogging about my adventures and misadventures in Japan. If you would like to learn more about me please check out my profile (which I swear I will update after writing this entry). 

My initial intention was to write a blog one time a week, detailing my adventures as  a JET. However, after my first week here I realized that it would be a lot more interesting, both for me and my potential future readers (that's YOU!) if I detail one adventure (or in this case miss-adventure) at a time. This brings me to the actual subject of my first post: 


 Before I even moved to Kumamoto-ken, I was informed that there was a huntsman spider living in my house. I was told to let this spider, whom my predecessor named Frank and whom I had decided to rename Sparky, live. Why you ask? Because it eats the giant, flying cockroaches and the giant centipedes she said. When I relayed this information to my fellow JETs and friends back home, they told me I was brave. 

I don't know if I would call myself brave. After three peaceful nights in my village, I stumbled upon Sparky. There was the moment of horror when I realized the scuttling sound that I thought had been coming from a cat chasing mice outside was from the spider (EEEEEEEK!). I jumped out of my chair andback three feet and the noise from my landing made it run away. I was told to *try* to let them live since they eat cockroaches (which also grow to freaky sizes here) and centipedes which apparently are aggressive and WILL chase you (I feel like Steve Irwin...). So I just kind of yelled at it that he better eat all of the bugs (and I meant ALL of the bugs) or else I was busting out the Raid. I'm still on the fence about what I'm actually going to do.

The plus side of not Raid-murdering everything in the house is that one: I won't have to dispose of deceased bug bodies (gross) and two: I'm sure spraying Raid all day everyday isn't healthy and probably doesn't smell too great. The super mega negative side is that I am an arachnophobic. I don't mean a "spiders make me feel icky... ewww" arachnophobic either. Back home when there would be a spider the size of my fingernail I would usually react by screaming and running away. (and not a step back - like a sprint). So the first time I saw Sparky he was only visible for a fraction of a second before slipping behind the door. I thought to myself: "damn he looked big but at least I'll never see him for more than half a second." This works since it would seem that seeing spiders way more so than the idea of them that sets me into panic mode.

Seeing him in the living room was freaky but I knew that all the roaches tend to congregate in my kitchen so I tried to rationalize that there would be no reason for him to run into my bedroom (there are doors but my house is old so even when I line them up as perfectly as possible [they slide] there is a bit of a gap). I also made a point of doing what I'm going to call my "godzillla walk" (where I stomp as loudly as possible and maybe even made some questionable "monster" sounds... I'm not proud of that). When I went into my bedroom, I slid the doors to minimize the gaps and banged on all of them for a little bit as if to indicate that it was a danger zone. Satisfied that I scared way any living thing in the house, I settled in to read Tina Fey's Bossy Pants, because that book can make anyone feel better. In hindsight, betting on spiders having object permanence was probably a bad choice. 

Sure enough, about thirty minutes later I hear the signature scuttle. It's kind of like the DUN DUN ....DUN DUN DUN DUN.... DUN DUN DUN DUN.... DUN DUN DUN!!!!! sound from Jaws only more terrifying because it's not on a TV screen. So I sat up, and saw him on my door kind of just staring at me. 

I started clapping. Nothing. I took a picture using flash hoping the light would scare him away. Nothing. I pounded on the wall behind me. Nothing. He started slowly walking down the door. I started seeing black spots. Now, the only thing more terrifying than a running Huntsman spider is one in stalk mode. Their legs move like the Nurses from the House on Silent Hill or the naked zombie thing from that Spanish semi-horror movie that has its eyeballs on its hands. I see more spots. I jump forward and bang on my bed as much as I can, like a pissed off gorilla on Animal Planet. He scuttles back to the other side of the door. I woke up facing the wrong way on my bed (I passed out). I sat up, grabbed my floor fan and held it like a baseball bat. Admittedly, using a gift from the Board of Education in my village and my primary house-cooling device as a weapon was probably a very bad choice. I was at a very low point. If you ever find yourself crouched on a bed holding a floor fan like a weapon, take a moment to sit back, take a really big breath, and think of a new action plan. After forty minutes (I wish I was exaggerating on that one), I was too tired to hold the fan so I set it down next to the bed and bawled like a five year old (not proud of that either). I then decided when I went shopping (today) I would buy a real broom to keep in my bedroom (so I could send him flying without breaking an expensive floor fan).

So, to summarize, while Japanese people seem to live in peace with these giant bugs, I run, scream, pass out, cry, and hide behind floor fans. Not a good time. That being said, when I finally calmed down enough to re-open my book I heard scuttles, cockroach hisses, and then silence. This morning the three cockroaches that had plagued my kitchen were no where to be found, so that was nice. Sparky is also no where to be found. I have a feeling that he only hunts at night because up until this point I had never seen him (3.5days) and this was my first time awake past 11pm. I think my plan (in addition to the broom by the bed) is to wait out the week and see how much he affects my sleep. 

                                  And thus, I shall close with a picture of my house guest: 

                                                                                                                 .... Sweet Dreams...


  1. Oh Mollee, you poor girl! If you don't feel brave yet, you will surely become so! I will be praying for you, that Sparky will take care of his bug-hunting business privately, and that you won't have any more encounters with bugs or spiders of unusual size. Hang in there!

    If you spray raid on the perimeter of your bedroom in the morning, by evening the smell mit to be too bad, and it should secure the boundary of your room for a week or so at a time, unless Sparky is immune to Raid...

    Emily S.

  2. Sorry, in the second paragraph, it should say "the smell might not be too bad."

  3. Did you edit the picture to make his eyes glow like that, or are they just glowing on their own??? o_O

    -Tarah ;D

  4. Emily, that is brilliant! I will try it tonight :)

    Tarah, I used flash and they lit up all on their own. BIGGEST. MISTAKE. EVER.

  5. Yeah, I'd rather see the spider. I've heard about the centipedes they have over there, the mukade. Supposedly, being bit (stung?) by one of them means a hospital visit and they're not afraid of us either. I would give the spider a hug if I knew that they kill mukade.

    (Mukade also like to travel in pairs...great...)

  6. Ya. Just remember not to squish the mukade if you do see them. Either spray them to death with poison while screaming obscenities at them, or find a pair of long prong things (I use an extra pair that I have and then don't use for cooking) and drop it in a pot to boil it.

  7. Eek. My predecessor told me that she only ever saw little mukade (and only 2x in the 2 years she lived here) so I'm hopeful that I won't have to deal with that or if I do they'll be easily Raid-able or boilable. Also boil them? I never would have thought of that. Why doesn't squishing them work?

  8. Mukade are one of those *great* bugs that release pheromones that attract more mukade if they are squished. Japanese hornets have the same sort of mechanism. They have to be squished for pheromones to work, so that's why you either burn them, boil them, poison them, or release them. (So, I've heard. I just know what I've looked up online.)