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Japanese vs. Israeli pests

June 18, 2011

After thinking more about Japanese vs. Israeli stray cats, the question of Japanese vs. Israeli pests soon followed. Several friends who have lived in Israel and Japan unanimously agreed that cockroaches in Japan are far more ominous and terrifying than those in Israel. Another win for Japan (sort of) is the overwhelmingly more terrifying population of birds, namely these:

Japanese crow in 井の頭公園

Japanese crow in 井の頭公園 2

Japanese crow perched ominously on a building in Tokyo

These horrible creatures are technically crows (karasu), only much larger and more vicious than any crow I’d ever seen before coming to Japan. They make loud noises, invade garbage, and have been rumored to consume cats and even attack humans. Just looking into their evil shiny eyes, it’s not hard to believe. They’re a widespread pest, even in cities.

Every country has pigeon issues to some degree, though Hebrew fails to distinguish between lovable, peaceful doves and scavenger-like pigeons in daily speech — they’re all lumped together as יונים (yonim). But the closest bird to a crow I’ve noticed long enough to photograph in Israel is this guy:

Israeli bird that kind of looks a little like a crow, but not really

I’m sure there must be big crows around somewhere, but they’re not widespread throughout rural and urban areas and certainly don’t inspire terror as their Japanese counterparts do. There are some grey and black little harmless crows around, but they hardly count.

The third scariest pest in Japan after cockroaches and crows is, of course, giant ネズミ (nezumi, rats) that have sometimes reached large enough sizes to remind me of the fire swamp rodents in The Princess Bride. And though I just saw a similarly giant rat for the first time in Israel about a week ago near Tel Aviv, the lack of subway system here means no giant rodent population to inhabit it. While this dearth of pests is good, I’d take Japan’s stellar public transportation system with a side of massive nezumi any day.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2011 4:55 pm

    You are so right about the crows. (I always hated walking past crows in Japan.) And it’s funny because while you can throw away garbage in Israel 24/7, most parts of Japan you can only throw out certain type of trash on certain days of the week, and only on the morning of the specific days (I’m sure you recall… fondly? 🙂 ). And yet trash is supposed to be the main cause of the vicious crow problem in Tokyo. I guess Israel’s garbage bins should be given more credit, I’ve seen plenty of cats inside them but never crows (or any other birds for that matter).

    P.S. kurasu -> karasu

    • June 19, 2011 11:58 pm

      I have had such a hard time accepting Israel’s lack of garbage schedule, especially with the new, more complex system adopted here. For weeks I kept asking “So, what day do we have to take out the compost?” and was convinced no one understood me what they answered “Whenever you want.” So I’d ask, “But when is it picked up?” “On Mondays.” “So we take it out Sunday night?” “No, take it out whenever.” “What do you mean, ‘whenever’?” “Whenever.” “But what about Monday?” “What about it?” “That’s when it’s picked up.” “So?” And so on and so on…

      Thanks for catching my typo!

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