Thursday, November 20, 2003

Since there are no dryers in Japan, I always hang my clothes outside to dry. As the weather is getting cold, a lot of the insects have been taking shelter inside my clothing. My first year in Japan, I had the rather unpleasant experience of having a large, hairy spider jump out of my pants as I was putting them on. Since then, I always shake out my clothing before putting it on.
This morning I had four (4!) bugs known as "kamemushi" fall out of my pants. We don't have "kamemushi" in Michigan. Literally the name means "Turtle bug" but I suspect they are in English what is known as "stink bugs". They have a rather strong odor they emit when disturbed. My clothing was infected with the smell, but as it was early in the morning, I couldn't be bothered to worry about it, and just put the pants on anyway.
The odor made me extremely unpopular in the Junior high school today. The students complained about my smell whenever I came over to their desk to help them with their homework.
I'm not sure how the locals deal with the stink bugs, but they must have someway to keep them away from their clothing. But that's part of the problem with living in a new place, you can't do anything right.
Another example: Japan is sometimes called "a mold culture." This is because mold thrives in the moist climate of Japan. Therefore traditional Japanese houses and clothing were all designed with the intent of preventing mold. (Thus, "mold culture". The entire culture is shaped by the need to prevent mold.)
Even today in modern Japan mold is still a huge problem. The locals here in Ajimu make sure to always keep their windows open to ventilate the houses (even in cold weather), and buy various devices that help suck up the moisture in the air.
But no one told me about any of this when I first came here. It was only after I had mold growing on my walls, my clothing, and my books, that I realized this was a problem that had to be addressed.
Anyway, I try and look at today as a learning experience. And I did learn a lot of new Japanese phrases today, like, "What is that smell?" and "Someone in this room smells like stink bugs. Who is it?"

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