One thing that can ruin a fun summer experience is getting bit by mosquitoes. To cope with this annoying bug, Japanese people have developed various products ranging from sprays to stickers. Over the years, the products became tenacious and more long lasting, while having minimum effects to human health.
Check out these 5 products that you can easily get in a Japanese drugstore or pharmacy!
*Prices are based on the drugstore Matsumoto-kiyoshi online store. (http://www.matsukiyo.co.jp/)
Mosquito Coils (Katori senkou)
This one is a classic type. If you watch anime or Japanese dramas, you must have seen it as a symbol of summer; a character complains about the hot weather as he places a mosquito coil by an engawa (Japanese style veranda). The mosquito coil is a popular mosquito repellent that keeps mosquitos away with its distinct smell. The scented material is shaped into a spiral, which is held at the center. It is usually placed close to the floor or on the ground. It can also be hung from the ceiling. When the spiral is lit from the outer end, the fire slowly burns its way to the center. When used indoors, it can not only repel mosquitoes but also kill them. Many families like to keep the coil near the doorway so that mosquitoes don’t get inside the house. It can also be used outdoors, but it will not be as effective as when used indoors. Despite being invented over 100 years ago, mosquito coils are still widely used as an effective mosquito repellent.
Price: About ¥500 for 30 coils.
- Only need a match to lit (no electricity / batteries)
- Can last up to 7~12 hours with a large coil
- Made of safe insecticide, pyrethroid
- Can be a fire hazard
- Those sensitive to smoke may experience side effects
- Used in limited outdoors (the effective range is about 2m)
Diffusers are the modern versions of mosquito coils. Instead of burning the material, the devices slowly emit liquid repellents into the air. Some products are powered by a battery, while others need to be connected to power outlets. Once the liquid repellent is used up, you need to replace it for it to work. In recent years, battery powered diffusers have evolved and some companies even boast that their products do not need a battery or liquid change for 200 days.
Similarly, spray type diffusers have emerged recently which are said to be highly effective. You need to manually spray this into a room. Then, the room will be mosquito-free for up to 12 hours! These types of repellents need a closed space to work, as the chemicals attach to the walls, killing the mosquitos as they land on the wall. One dose of spray is enough for a small room. A regular can of spray can last for about 3 months.
- About ¥1000~¥1500 for a single device
- About ¥500+ for an additional liquid replacement
- About ¥1000~¥1500 for a spray type diffuser
- Not a fire hazard
- Lasts for a long period
- Limited use outdoors
Sprays / Aerosols
A popular way to keep mosquitoes outdoors is by directly spraying repellents on your skin. They can be watery or powdery depending on the product. It is helpful to carry a can of spray around as it can be easily applied whenever you go outside during the mosquito season. Many people use a spray in combination with other products, as a spray by itself may not fully protect them from mosquitos. The insecticide liquid can also come in the form of wet tissues, which the chemical is applied by wiping the skin directly.
- About ¥500~¥1000 for a bottle
- Good for outdoors where people are not gathered in a closed space
- Effective for some insects besides mosquitos (horseflies, fleas, ticks…etc)
- Need to be reapplied often
- The effectiveness may vary
- Does not actually kill the mosquitos, only repel them
Stickers / Bracelets
For those who do not want to apply chemicals directly onto their skin, repellent stickers and bracelets are an option. These are also mainly used outdoors. You can put stickers onto your clothes, hats, and bags so that mosquitos stay away from you. The scent will last up to 12 hours, so you must replace the sticker afterwards.
Similarly, repellent bracelets are usually rubber or silicon bands that can be worn around your wrist or ankles. These also last for up to 12 hours. They come in various colorful designs, so they are suitable for children who might otherwise dislike mosquito products.
- About ¥500 for a pack of 24 stickers
- About ¥500~¥800 for a pack of 30 bracelets
- More friendly to the skin since the chemical doesn’t touch the skin directly (suitable for small children as well)
- Not as effective as other methods
- Tend to be expensive as they are disposable
Portable Electronic Devices
These are small, battery powered products that can be attached to your clothes or bags. They are preferred by people who do sports outdoors, for example, hiking or camping. They are lightweight but are more effective than the stickers or bracelets. They form a repellent barrier around you by releasing chemicals. It is a must-have item for those who are active outdoors but need strong protection against mosquitos.
- About ¥1000~¥1500 for one (lasts 120 hours)
- Provides good protection (for other insects as well)
- Better for short term use, as it can be turned on and off
- The effective period is short, batteries and the chemical needs to be replaced often
- More expensive
Did you find your guardian for the summer yet? As you can see, different products should be used depending on whether you intend to use them outdoors or indoors. For those who enjoy the nature, protecting yourself from dangerous insects is crucial. Being trapped in a room with mosquitos can be annoying as well. Make sure to prepare so that you won’t end up with itches all over!