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Dealing With Mosquitoes In Japan

Summer in Japan means high humidity and mosquitos! Luckily, there are plenty of products available for dealing with the annoying blood suckers!

By 2 min read 17

Last week, the first mosquito of the season made its way into my room. The little jerk was one of those zebra-striped (Tiger Mosquito) silent types. Fortunately, these tend to be lazy flyers. As much as I consider myself a compassionate person, mosquitoes are difficult to forgive.

I honestly don’t mind the humidity of Japanese summers, but I can’t stand the mosquitoes. Luckily, there are plenty of products available for dealing with mosquitos in Japan, but before learning about these products, you should memorize two useful words:

蚊除け (kayoke): A product that is labeled kayoke will repel mosquitoes.

蚊取り (katori): A product that is labeled katori will kill mosquitoes.

Mosquito repellents

Look for this mosquito repellent spray at any pharmacy in Japan.

Personally, my strategy is first to use simple methods, such as wearing long sleeves and sealing entrances. Mosquitoes can come in through your bathroom fan vent, so you may want to get a filter to keep them out.

Next comes the mosquito repellent, which includes sprays (蚊除けスプレー, mushiyoke supure), hanging repellent sheets (虫よけバリア, mushiyoke baria), and aroma oils.

If they still manage to slip past all my defenses, it’s time to bring out the big guns! The products below are a mosquito’s worst nightmare.

Mosquito coil

When the stick is burned, the smoke kills nearby mosquitoes.

A mosquito coil (蚊取り線香, katorisenko) is basically an incense stick that contains an insecticide. When the stick burns, the smoke kills nearby mosquitoes.

The standard mosquito coil is a gray or earth-colored spiral. It usually lasts for several hours. Naturally, cute mosquito coil containers are also available. The one you’ll see the most is a kayaributa (蚊遣豚), a ceramic pig. The smoke comes out of the pig’s nose.

On the downside, the mosquito coil’s smoke can have an unpleasant smell and irritate the throat and eyes. Additionally, the chemicals can hurt small pets. For these reasons, I suggest taking precautions to reduce these adverse effects when using a mosquito coil.

Mosquito exterminating mat

No smoke, no smell, and no fire.

Mosquito mats (蚊取りマット, katorimatto) might not be as cute as the ceramic pigs, but do present a safer alternative to the traditional mosquito coil. The mosquito mat uses a heater which causes it to release insecticide.

Depending on the type, a mosquito mat heater will work with batteries or an electric outlet. Since you’re not using smoke, this means no smell or risk of fire. As for the mat itself, it can last from half a day to a whole day. Kincho is a well-known brand for mosquito mats and insecticides in general.

Liquid-type electric mosquito exterminator

The liquid-type exterminator will last a month or more before needing to be refilled.

The liquid mosquito exterminator (電子蚊取り器, denshikatoriki) is more popular than the mat. The electronic device may run on batteries or by an electrical plug. It’s filled with liquid insecticide, then the device releases the insecticide into the air for a smell-free, smoke-free, mosquito-free room. 

The liquid-type exterminator has the edge over the mat in that it lasts a month or more. Earth no Mat (アースノーマット) is probably the most popular liquid-type exterminator.

These are some of the main types of mosquito extermination methods used in Japan. What are your recommendations for keeping mosquitoes away?

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  • John Munjak says:

    Can anyone tell me why the mosquito coil holder is pig-shaped?

  • Rich Boerbon says:

    Get a 2 Liter plastic soda bottle, remove the cap and cut the top 1/3 of the bottle off. Set the top aside. Pour 1/3 cup of brown sugar in the bottom half of the bowl, add 1 tsp of yeast and warm water. This concoction is irresistible to Mosquito’s. Now take the top of the bottle and invert it and set it over the bottom half of the bottle. This will allow Mosquito’s in but they will get stuck inside and eventually die.

  • Lagosta says:

    I work at a mosquito coil factory haha

  • ursosentado says:

    Here in my place we use a tennis-like racket that zaps the little basterds. Doens’t solve the main problem, though. We have to put sanitary water on the ponds and other places wheres water, killing the larvaes and eggs.

  • Xellz says:

    Katorisenko doesn’t really kill mosquitoes. Also interesting how people in japan react to critique of katorisenko, it’s really unpleasant for me, i get irritation in my nose and throat if smoke is too dense. It’s one of sources of PM2.5 particles (and some harmful chemicals), which is a problem mostly in Kyushu. Air pollution from China reaching Japan, people wear masks and talk about how bad for health it is, but totally fine using katorisenko indoors even with closed windows.

    It’s for outdoors or old japanese houses, that are aired really well.

  • Jennifer Williams says:

    I would be worried about the pesticide coils/ burners just because one it is poison in some form and if it can cause issues in small pets and even cause throat/ eye irritation, it can’t be good to be around in case of breathing it in.

  • TheWanderingJewels says:

    We got them here in the midwest U.S. as well. The incense coils have been a stand by for some time for us

  • Kalisto Angelique Hart says:

    Thank you =^.^=

  • KumaDog88 says:

    Ouchie, mosquitoes. Not looking forward to reliving childhood in deep south of US.

  • thanks for the tips, I enjoyed reading the Infos and apply these things myself in my place. 🙂

  • Theo Lubbe says:

    Catnip in pots at all windows. I had absolutely no mosquito problems in my room, where I had to have the window open permanently since the aircon wasn’t functioning, for the entirety of our hot and humid summer. We have two ponds in our own garden where they breed along with plenty of other places nearby, so there’s never a shortage of them.

    Within a few days of my catnip plants dying horrible deaths to my mom’s Siamese and being removed from my room, I was dealing with dozens of killed mosquitos and more bites than I cared to count.

    My strategy for dealing with them now is simple: I get bitten so much I don’t even notice it anymore.



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