I had a very nice sized apartment in Japan. Compared to my current one room apartment in Korea, it was a mansion. Actually, apartments in Japan are actually called "mansions!" I'm not sure what that word literally translates to, but my adult students always got a laugh after I explained that "mansion," in English, means posh sprawling huge house.
I had 2 rooms in Japan plus a kitchen large enough for a dining room table. I suppose, technically, it was a kitchen/dining room. Off said room was my bedroom with nice soft tatami mats. These two rooms could be blocked off from the rest of the apartment by door made of glass and wood which stayed open during the warm months, but closed in the winter when I relied on my little kerosene space heater to keep the place warm enough to live in.
My back bedroom was pretty empty. When my brother and uncle came to visit me in May 2003, they slept in there on an air mattresses they actually brought from Canada. Other than that it remained unoccupied. There were a couple of big empty black bags, a closet with some of my clothes and things, and a nice low wooden table I had dragged upstairs from where someone had discarded it at the side of my apartment building. Off the hall, on the other side of the empty bedroom, were my toilet and laundry/washroom. In Japan, toilets, where the commode is, are almost always separate from the washroom, where one bathes. My Japanese students would always comment when I showed them pictures of my Canada bathroom where there was a toilet and bathtub with shower in the same room. They would be shocked to see how I shower, in Korea, with a hand-held shower nozzle, while standing almost right over the toilet!
In the empty room, on the low table, was my perfume...'Angel,' by Thierry Mugler. Yummy. This was my last stop as I was headed out of my apartment. There was no reason for keeping my perfume there as opposed to where I dressed. That's just where I unpacked it and where it stayed. At least my empty room was being used for something, even if it was just as a one-stop fragrance-shot kinda thing.
One morning (afternoon, to most of the world, but morning to me) I was heading out the door and stopped off to make me smell good, and after spraying, while replacing the bottle in its box, I noticed a little insect sitting inside.
There are insects all over the place in spring. But I was suddenly curious as to why this one had chosen the inside of my perfume box to hang out, so I had a closer look.
It was a perfect miniature praying mantis. I was surprised. As I stopped looking at him, though, and expanded my field of vision to include the table I picked the box up off of, I noticed it was covered in little mantis-brothers. Looking around, so were my walls, so was the ceiling. So was the floor. It seemed like there were hundreds of them. I couldn't count, they were small and I had to go to work.
My adult students got a kick out of my praying mantis infestation story, and told me their Japanese name, Kamakiri.
When I returned to my apartment that night, the little kamakiris were partying it up in the room, mantis-style. I tried, as gently as I could, to coax them into my dustpan with a broom and release them outside.
Praying mantises (mantii?) don't freak me out that much. I know they like to eat other bugs. Any bug or animal that eats other bugs is cool by me. Especially if they eat mosquitoes. Mosquitoes LOVE me, but I HATE them. Bloodsucking bastards.
Believe me, a room full of millions of baby kamakiris is much better than one of these bad boys,
which I found on my balcony last summer, drinking out of my laundry machine drain. I had to beat it to death with a slipper while trying to fend off the curious Kamikaze Kamiakiri Kitty with my other hand. These critters, I hear, can leave a nasty bite.
I wondered how the little praying mantis had gotten into my apartment, and then I recalled an anomaly on my wall I had encountered after I moved in. It was in a corner of the room, a hard white bump on the wall. I had seen it, poked at it, and finally just cleaned it, thinking it was a pile of wallpaper paste.
'Twas not. 'Twas a nest. 'Twas a nest just a 'waitin to hatch.
A couple months after witnessing my little army of kamakiris in my apartment, I was walking, before work, to the local video store. (God bless GEO, their 100 yen Wednesdays and massive amount of selection which kept me entertained during my stay. It puts my current Korean neighborhood video store to shame.) Walking, I stopped because I noticed a full grown praying mantis in my path. The praying mantis noticed me as well, and I shit you not, she ran toward my shoe and (happily?) climbed up my leg toward my head (dinner?) I brushed her off and she ran to the safety of a tree. Maybe she was the mom of my apartment babies? Maybe she was one I released? Regardless,...I know she loved me.
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