Gokiburi: On Madness and Mushi

July 24th, 2012By Category: Culture

If only my first sightings of the little buggers had been the last. But alas, the first sighting was to be a sign of things to come. Two of the little blighters in short order. One scurrying across the top of my sink, in broad daylight no less! No sooner do I open the cupboard under said sink that I spot his fifth cousin twice removed, next to the can of bug spray designed to kill him. Impudent little git. Yes, yes, your kind may be able to survive a nuclear apocalypse but to set up camp next to the one thing that can kill you, aside from the bottom of my shoe that is, screams of an audacity that must soon be corrected. You may not long lay in the cracks and corners of my home, amidst the damp and the dark, sipping Kirin and smoking Peace or Hope brand cigarettes like some long fermented salary man propping up the snack bar near my house (I bet you’re friends with the guy who sings Enka every Thursday!). No, this can mean only one thing… a trip to the supermarket… oh yes, the horror!



Indeed, they knew you were coming. With the thick, viscous humidity descending on the town as summer approached you knew your time was at hand and so did the lowly shelf stacker at my local supermarket. He had already brought forth the munitions, placed them in an aisle by the door, handily signposted it and offered weapons for all tastes. There’s the roach hotels for those with patience and those who underestimate your wit. There’s air fresheners designed to lure you to your death and those to repel you. It is possible I bought both. Then finally there is the giant, whopping can of bug spray with a nozzle of death just for you dear Gokiburi-san. For you are no western cockroach dear foe. No, you live freely in these lands. One can keep a clean kitchen (as hard as that is in the land of endless recycling) and still you will crawl through the gaps of my ageing a-pa-to (apartment)!

Then you struck again, a different variety somehow. Not the small and brown kind that exist in their multitudes in the Izu Peninsula’s hazy August but a big, black beast; a true adversary. Yet, you were lazy in your hiding place, concealed beneath the plastic picture rail in my living room. Perhaps you were mocking me, letting a single long leg dangle into sight while at first unawares I continued to talk on the phone. But see you I did and speechifying like a deceased crocodile hunter I soon was, my grammar and syntax slowly evolving into something more green and alien from a galaxy far, far away. Confusing it was. So I chased you with phone still at my ear, a listener to our duel believing me suddenly (perhaps not so suddenly) mad, while in my left hand I held the can of aerosolized death.  You scurried down my wall after the initial strike. I caught you in my sights as you dashed beneath my desk. For a brief moment I feared I had lost you but soon enough I had you cornered… in the corner. One blast of spray was not enough, still you limped on weighed down by your impending doom. A second blast of poison proved insufficient still but with the third and final impact you were done for.

Still it was not enough for me, remaining in the throes of the hunt but lacking the taxidermy skills to stuff and mount your head to my wall I settled for the modern equivalent. Instagram.



You were a worthy opponent so I shall afford you due respect, you were here first after all. Yet, I am American born and British raised and I shall bring to bear all my worst colonial instincts upon your kind.

You have been warned.

And no amount of nineteen-eighties propaganda movies shall quell my wrath!

The fine artwork towards the top of this post was created by Max Joseph, he blogs here and tweets here. Check him out!

Also, for those who are curious, ‘mushi’ is Japanese for insect.


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Author of this article

Matt Keighley

Born in New Jersey, raised in Yorkshire, living in Shizuoka. Love Japan, hate natto. Full time teacher, part time writer. Don't worry, I'm confused too. Find my rambling and writing over at http://marshmallowsensei.com/

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  • http://zoomingjapan.com/ zoomingjapan

    Haha. Yeah, you can’t avoid those little guys in summer. Actually we have at least one ever other day at work. Very annoying. If it was only roaches that invade your apartment in summer, I could live with it, but unfortunately there’s so many other creepy crawlies around, too!

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