The Rainy Season is Coming, Be Prepared !!!!

July 2010

This issue I will be writing about mold and food poisoning. For those of you that come from cool/cold countries it may be the first time you ever experience humid hot weather. Well, unfortunately there is nothing we can do about the weather but having some information can be helpful. Before I get to the mold part let me briefly tell you about some unpleasant living things that the rainy season can also bring crawling into your home.
It is one of the few things I don't like about Japan, the "gokiburi" or cockroach in English.
If you have never seen one, here is a link to some pictures.

In my opinion, roaches must be one of the most repulsive creatures on earth. They find their way into your house and scare the heck out of you crawling along the floor or popping out of a drawer. Roaches eat anything, but it helps to put away food in tight containers and to vacuum the floor and to keep things as clean as possible. They also need water; so never keep any water in your sink over night (that's when they are most active). Or better yet, wipe the sink with a dry towel before going to bed. Another thing that many are not aware of is that roaches love beer, and thus, leaving your empty can laying around is a sure way to get unwanted company. Roaches can live anywhere, but they like cardboard the best. So if your place is full of boxes, watch out!
There are some other things you can also do to at least make their lives a little bit harder with the hope that they will leave you and find some other poor "gaijin" to torment instead.

There are many products available to help you in the battle with "evil".
Here are a few samples;

There are the little roach houses with glue inside which the roaches get stuck in, the name being a very appropriate "gokiburi catcher".There are also small boxes with poison inside for the roach to eat, he then go back to his hiding place, dies and get eaten by the other roaches which then dies too. This is called "combat" …showing that this is in fact a war…man versus roach.

I myself have a dog and so I don't want to use a lot of chemicals in case she would eat it by mistake. I use two natural things that seem to be working pretty well and if you have small children at home you may want to try this too.
I put baking soda, and bay leaves, in small containers and put these in drawers and cupboards. It really seems to help. For some reason that only God knows, roaches don't like baking soda and bay leaves.

Of course, if you spot one, you can always chase them with a slipper, but in my experience,

.... the roach always seems to be faster......!


Rainy season is coming, it last for about 40 days. In the Kanto area it is usually from June 10th to July 20th. With it come the humidity and the mold. I can live with the humidity…… I really hate the mold!!

Mold is found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Everyone is exposed to some mold on a daily basis without evident harm. Mold can however cause health problems when inhaled in large quantities. How much mold will make you sick depends on the individual. For some people, a relatively small amount of mold spores can cause health problems, for others, it may take more. The basic rule is, if you can see or smell it, do something about it.
Infants and elderly, pregnant women and individuals with existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies, asthma or reduced immune defense should be extra cautious.
Allergic reactions may be the most common health problems of mold exposure. Typical symptoms reported (alone or in combination) include:

  • respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty in breathing
  • nasal and sinus congestion
  • dry, hacking cough, nose and throat irritation
  • eyes problems like watery eye, red eye, blurry vision, light sensitivity
  • skin irritation
  • constant headaches, memory loss, mood changes
  • ache and pains, possible fever

Consult your doctor if you suspect that you or your family suffers from heath problems caused by mold.

Here in Japan, the combination of high temperatures and high humidity makes it the perfect place for mold to grow. It is very important to open windows and let the air circulate throughout the apartment/house when the weather permits. The humidity is at its lowest between noon and 4pm so if possible try to ventilate during these hours.
On rainy days, opening the window will increase the humidity inside so use the air conditioner, set on the dehumidifying mode "Joshitsu unten (除湿運転)" or use a dehumidifier.

A dehumidifier is a very effective way to keep the humidity out. Many types are available at electric appliances stores, priced from 20,000 yen up. Portable dehumidifiers which can be moved from room to room are especially convenient. Try not to dry your laundry indoors. Use a clothes dryer or if you absolutely have to dry your laundry inside on a rainy day, put the laundry in the bathroom with the ventilation fan on and if possible also use a portable fan to blow air at the laundry from below.
To prevent mold in the bathroom, use the ventilation fan every time you take a bath or shower. Wash the bathtub, walls and bath utensils with soap water and rinse with cold water to lower the temperature in the bathroom. It is also a good idea to wipe the walls and tub with a dry towel. Keeping things dry is the key.

On nice sunny days, it is good to hang out your beddings in the sunshine to dry. Don't forget the mattress as well. If you always leave it on the floor it will soon get mold on the bottom. It is also good to vacuum it after you have dried it. That will help with house ticks as well as mold.

In Japanese style closets "Oshiire (押し入れ)" it is a good idea to use ventilation racks (Sunoko) on the floor of the closet before storing any bedding, allowing air to circulate and decrease humidity. There are also dehumidifying agents to be used in closets that are sold in stores.
Remember that keeping your house clean is an important factor in the battle against mold. Don't forget to clean the filter in the air conditioner as well.


Watch out for food poisoning!!!

During the rainy season and the hot summer month's food spoils unbelievably easily.
Here are some points to remember.

  • Be sure to wash your hands under running water with soap before cooking and eating meals.
  • Keep your cooking utensils clean and sterilize them by boiling or use a disinfecting cleaner, available at any store. Ask for a brand that can kill bacteria. "Jokin no dekiru senzai(除菌のできる洗剤)"
  • Consider using separate chopping boards for meat and other foods.
  • Keep the fridge clean and cool (between 0-4 degree Centigrade). Remember a fridge doesn't kill bacteria, only slows down the rate at which they multiply.
  • Do not keep foods beyond their 'use by' date.
  • Make sure to cook the center of foods at 75℃ for one minute and more.
  • Once cooked, consume food quickly, or cool rapidly and refrigerate or freeze.
  • When in doubt about the safety, throw it out!
  • Be careful when buying food from venders and shops outside.

Symptoms of food poisoning can take many forms and can appear anywhere from minutes to weeks after eating.
Bacteria, such as salmonella and botulism, can cause fever, cramps, nausea and diarrhea. Viruses, such as those in shellfish can take days to show and includes fatigue, vomiting, body aches and appetite loss.
Consult a doctor immediately for symptoms like these.