By Natalie Laber
In this week’s Japantics: True Crime Stories, let me tell you about the most horrifying thing I’ve witnessed to date in Japan – nay, in the entirety of my young life.
It was a warm September evening in Tohoku Town, and I was exhausted from a long day of doing next to nothing at the office. Weary and spent, I had only the energy to make myself a meager supper of Shin ramen with egg in it, which taxed me to my limits. Nevertheless, possessed by a wildly out-of-character impulse to clean, I decided to then do all of my dishes because they were all dirty.
So absorbed was I in my task that I completely failed to notice the entrance into my home by a bold intruder.
Y’all, it was a cockroach.
I have since been doubted on this point because cockroaches apparently don’t get into people’s houses much up here, but those people obviously keep their houses at acceptable levels of sanitation. I, on the other hand, live in a literal garbage heap. I know what I saw, and it was a cockroach.
I was startled upon seeing the beast, but quickly regained my composure. Had it been crawling around or, god forbid, flying at me, I would have doubtless soiled myself in fright, but this little bugger was motionless, and I quickly assumed it was dead. You are no doubt asking yourself why I would assume this. Well, its two big hairy rear legs were for some reason severed from its body and lying scattered a good few centimeters away as though carelessly discarded, so it seemed like a safe assumption at the time.
But oh, how wrong I was.
When I bent to scoop up the corpse, it began to slowly wriggle its remaining limbs in agony, unable to move but clearly distressed and bent on escaping my clutches. As this gruesome scene unfolded, I started screaming bloody murder, probably upsetting my next door neighbors (who also happen to be my students). Then I drenched the beast in bug spray. If you’ve ever had personal dealings with the cockroach, nature’s most stupidly resilient creation, you can probably guess that it refused to die for quite a long time, and it wasn’t until the next morning that I was well and truly convinced that it had made it to bug heaven, at which point I promptly tossed the body into the trash and started scrubbing down every inch of my kitchen, which now reeked of bug poison.
The cockroach was gone, but the question remained: How, and why, had it appeared on my floor that night? And how had it lost its legs? Was it an elderly, decrepit cockroach on its deathbed, lured out into the open in its final moments by the smell of my delectable Shin ramen? Or was it a brazen young cockroach who stepped over the line one too many times and had both its legs broken by the cockroach yakuza?
Find out in the next installment of Japantics: True Crime Stories!