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Japan is a great place to be in the summer. For the culturally minded, there are festivals at centuries-old shrines, dazzling fireworks displays, and neighborhood folk dances with everyone wearing summer kimonos or yukata. If your thought process is a little baser, the all-you-can-drink beer gardens on the rooftops of department stores, along with much higher socially-accepted hem lines than in many other parts of the world, aren’t half-bad either.

But there’s one thing no one likes about summer here: the hordes of cockroaches.

Japanese superstition holds that it’s bad luck to kill a spider*, but it’s always open season on roaches. Each year as the weather heats up so does the number of these creepy, scurrying interlopers. How to take care of them, though? It’s too late to try our winter remedy, and picking one of the nasty buggers up with your bare hands is just too disgusting. Hitting them with a shoe is too messy, and as for talking it out roaches drive a notoriously hard bargain, often demanding piles of rancid food be prepared for them before they’ll even agree to come to the negotiating table.

Pesticide sprays are the way most people go, but then you’ve got that oily, gassy smell hanging in the air. For that matter, not everyone is convinced that it’s a good idea to spray something that can take down cockroaches, considered among the heartiest living things on our planet, around the places where you eat and sleep.

The cockroach, even more feared than the mosquito or jellyfish, the other members of Japan’s triumvirate of summer menaces.

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But now there’s a new solution being offered with the Cockroach Freezing Jet canned spray. Similar products have been offered before for use with smaller insect pests, but this is the first one designed to work against roaches. Firing a frigid blast of -75-degree Celsius (-103 degree Fahrenheit) air, it immobilizes the creatures so you can scoop them up and get rid of them at your leisure. The spray is odorless and leaves no sticky residue, making cleaning up after the battle a snap.

But some cockroaches seem to laugh off even being hit by insecticides. Will this new product really save us from these insect aggressors? The manufacturer assures us it will, as cold is the roach’s greatest weakness. We’re no entomologists ourselves, but the claim rings true to us. After all, people in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, with its low temperatures and heavy snowfall, have by far the fewest encounters with the beats, while in tropical Okinawa they grow to monstrous proportions.

But just how safe is this anti-cockroach wizardry? The gas used in the product, designated HFO-1234ze, is far less flammable than those in other bug sprays, so the developers assure us there’s no risk of fire if some roaches decide to roll up in your kitchen while you’re cooking and you have to put them in their place.

With toxic insecticides, there’s always the fear of accidentally hitting your Cornish game hens and collection of fine wines, or if you’re like us your instant ramen and half-finished can of Kirin beer (or Ebisu, if it’s just after payday). Cockroach Freezing Jet is pesticide free, though, so you can use it to take down any uninvited dinner guests, then go right back to your foie ‘gras.

Armed with our can of the stuff, we’ll avoid panicking and keep cool, should we run across any roaches in our homes this summer. And while we can’t deny that fighting cockroaches with power of fire or lightning would be even more dramatic, we have to admit that, especially for homes with young children or pets, that ice is probably the most responsible choice. Happy hunting!

Source, top image: Fumakilla

Inset image: SXC

*According to the old Japanese superstition, it is good fortune to find a spider in your home in the morning hours, so killing it would bring about bad luck. On the other hand, spiders in the home at night are considered bad luck, but killing them will reverse the spell. If in doubt, remember the old rhyme: “If a spider in the morning you see, thank the gods and leave it be. If a spider in the evening should visit, smack it dead dead dead with a rolled up newspaper.”

[ Read in Japanese ]