May 17

Surviving in Japan: A Guide to Mosquito Repellent in Japan

Posted by Ashley Thompson (Shizuoka-ken, 2008-2010) of Surviving in Japan: without much Japanese and Lifelines columnist for The Japan Times.

That wonderfully hot and humid time of year is upon us – summer. And of course, the rainy season and along with it, mosquito season. I still remember my first apartment in Japan, next to a large drainage pool area where I can only guess thousands of mosquito eggs were hatching every day. And then they show up at 3am – that high-pitched buzzing whine in my ear as I attempt to sleep.

Since being in Japan, I’ve struggled with the best ways to control them, and though not every solution is always 100% effective, hopefully some of these options may help you get through the summer with a few less uncomfortable, itching bites and restless nights.

Words to know

First of all, wherever you’re looking for mosquito repellents or related items, you’ll probably want to know some of the following words and terms:

蚊                               か                               ka                         mosquito
虫                        むし                           mushi                  insect
虫よけ or 虫除け     むしよけ                  mushi yoke         insect repellent
防虫                          ぼうちゅう              bouchuu              protection against insects
忌避                          きひ                           kihi                       avoid, evade
殺虫剤                      さっちゅうざい     sacchuuzai          insect killer/insecticide
蚊取り                      かとり                      katori                   “remove mosquitoes”
天然成分                 てんねんせいぶん tennen seibun     natural ingredients
室内用                     しつないよう          shitsunaiyou       indoor use
屋外用                     おくがいよう          okugaiyou            outdoor use


Ingredients in Insecticides and Insect/Mosquito Repellents

You’ll generally find most insect repellent products in Japan fall into one of two categories (although a few will be part of both):

Natural mosquito repellents usually contain oils such as citronella (シトロネラ油), lavender (ラベンダー油), lemon eucalyptus (レモンユーカリ精油), and other essential oils. Some may also contain pyrethrum (a certain kind of flower), such as the natural mosquito coils, in which you’ll want to look for these kanji: 除虫菊. Many natural products will use 天然成分, though, keep in mind some of these still contain some chemical or harmful ingredients – so best to check the ingredient label if that is something you’re concerned about.

Chemical mosquito repellents/insecticides: Nearly all of the chemical repellents and insecticides contain pyrethroid, which is a chemical imitation of pyrethrum. You’ll typically find ピレスロイド系 in the active ingredient list, sometimes in parentheses, as most of the ingredients listed among chemical repellents are pyrethroids of some kind, even if the name is different. Though pyrethroid is considered safe for general use in certain amounts by the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. (and of course, considered safe in Japan as well), it doesn’t make it necessarily healthy, especially if you have respiratory problems – so feel free to read up on it, learn more about it, and decide for yourself if it’s something you feel comfortable using. Also, please remember to take appropriate precautions when using any product with pyrethroid – try to keep areas ventilated, wash your hands/skin if you come in contact with the chemical surface, etc.

The other chemical commonly used (in body/skin repellents), and which I’ve also mentioned in the skin repellent section, is deet (ディート), which you may already be familiar with.


Important note: when looking for the following items at your local daily goods store or home store, keep in mind that some of the insect repellent items for your body are actually located in the pharmacy area, while the others, such as insecticides and other insect repellents, will be located in another area, most likely under: 殺虫剤.


Electronic Vapor Repellents — CLICK HERE to read the rest of the post.

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