cabinet of wonders: gokiburi hoi-hoi

14Aug10

The ゴキブリホイホイ (“Gokiburi Hoi-Hoi”) is the mousetrap of cockroach removal devices; it’s a model of simplicity in conception and execution, and yet so absolutely effective that it’s hard to think of any way in which it could be improved.  The Gokiburi Hoi-Hoi has been around since 1973, from what I can gather, and uses the classic tactic of baiting the animal with tasty treats and then trapping it when it arrives to feed.  The bait in this particular case is a pungent plastic package full of some sort of unidentifiable substance that roaches find to be exceptionally delicious.  This packet is stuck in the middle of a field of glue that itself is hidden inside a cardboard ‘house’ with a few windows and doors for the roaches to enter.  A pack of six costs about ¥250 (about three dollars, U.S.) down at the local convenience store.

The Japanese name for cockroach is ‘gokiburi’ (ゴキブリ) and “hoi-hoi” is basically Japanese for “Shoo! Go away!”  The Japanese cockroach, which is also found in the south of the United States (my great grandmother used to refer to them as “water bugs”), tends to be somewhat solitary so it’s rare to encounter several at at time.  When I do find a cockroach in the house (which usually happens about five times a summer) I generally just catch it in a jar and then let it go back outside where it came from.  However, like most people, I don’t like to have cockroaches wandering about so I put a few Gokiburi Hoi-Hoi traps around as well, and almost always end up nabbing a few that way.

The really nice thing about the Gokiburi Hoi-Hoi traps is that they don’t use any poison so you don’t have to worry about the roaches in your house becoming mobile toxic waste sites.  The even better thing about the Gokiburi Hoi-Hoi traps is the fantastic set of graphics that come with the packaging.  What I love most about the packaging is that every single last roach on the box seems to be drawn in a different style: there’s the realistic roach crawling into the open roach door, there’s the smiling roach that seems to have some kind of sparkly powers, there’s the dead roach with a massive frowny face and spiral — (@_@) — “I’m dead” eyes, there’s the Plankton-esque model knocking politely on the door, and finally there’s the panicked cockroach that’s stuck in the glue and looks like something straight out of a Merrie Melodies cartoon from the 1930s.

And speaking of cartoons, a film that I’m deeply intrigued by (but haven’t yet seen) is Hiroaki Yoshida’s Twilight of the Cockroaches (ゴキブリたちの黄昏), a film that combines live action and animation in its depiction of a society of cockroaches that faces extermination when the bachelor they live with finds a girlfriend and she decides the place needs to be cleaned up.  Remember, cockroaches are people too!  As long as there’s a little anthropomorphism involved . . .

As a closer, here’s a fun little fact about the American cockroach, gleaned from Wikipedia:

In an experiment carried out at the University of California, Berkeley in 1991, a Periplaneta americana registered a record speed of 5.4 kilometres per hour (3.4 mph), about 50 body lengths per second, which would be comparable to a human running at 330 kilometres per hour (210 mph).

Try not to think about it too much.



4 Responses to “cabinet of wonders: gokiburi hoi-hoi”

  1. Great post thanks.

    • 2 Trane DeVore

      Who knew that cockroach traps would be such a popular topic? Thanks for stopping by.

  2. 3 Trane DeVore

    “Un paio di alternative” — But what are the alternatives?!!!! I’d certainly like to know. The Gokiburi hoi-hoi has always been all that I need to keep the roaches at bay. That and making sure to keep the apartment clean.


  1. 1 Incubi e deliri « Tokyo Hell

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