Late last week, we told you about an event being held by Tokuyama Zoo this summer: the Cockroach Fest. One of the attractions listed was the horrific sounding “cockroach encounter,” but we didn’t have any details about just what kind of encounter it was. Being a naturally curious bunch with a masochistic streak a mile wide, we decided to dispatch a reporter to find out. 

Here is the report filed by our own Takashi Harada.


The cockroach, undisputed king of filthy vermin. Tokuyama Zoo claims that its Cockroach Fest can change your image of this creature, but is that really the case? Given their earnest enthusiasm, I felt like the least I could do was go and see. So I went to encounter some cockroaches.

The dark sky matches my own sense of foreboding

Let me start at the beginning. I hate cockroaches. If I see one, I instantly whip out the bug spray and kill it dead. I’ve never met someone who actually likes cockroaches, but I really hate them. And as I pondered whether this event could actually change that, I started to see little darting shadows everywhere I looked.

The gray weather seemed to echo my sense of unease. On the way to the zoo, the heavens suddenly opened up in a downpour so heavy I couldn’t see the front of my car. Or perhaps that was just the tears in my eyes. Either way, I don’t think I could have felt any worse about my impending cockroach encounter.

Finally, I arrive at the zoo

Arriving at the zoo, I gathered up my courage and headed to the exhibition hall to get this over with. The staff explained that I was going to be matched with a big cockroach from Madagascar. And actually, the fresh-fruit-loving guy didn’t seem so bad, at least compared to a regular cockroach. Truthfully, he was a gorgeous cockroach.

But he was still a cockroach.


Now faced with the thing, my brain just completely stopped functioning and I stood there like a robot on the fritz. At that moment, the staff asked, “Do you want to touch him?”

Things go better than expected

It was the moment of truth. As the roach was placed in my palm, I immediately panicked. “If you calm down and think about it, it’s no different from holding a rhinoceros beetle larva,” I said to myself. “BUT IT’S A COCKROACH!!!” myself replied. Logic and emotion warred.


On hearing that Madagascar roaches don’t fly, I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding, feeling shaky with relief. It seems I’d been harboring a fear of something black and chitinous flying at me in an attack. I was able to compose myself with this fear assuaged.


I did better than I expected. But what about the other visitors? Afterwards, I asked some of them how they had handled the experience. Like me, their initial response was to freak out, but after they managed to get the roach in their hands, it was strangely fascinating. Anyway, we did it!

Open every day during summer vacation

In conclusion, we proved that cockroaches can be OK. But without the enthusiasm of Tokuyama Zoo, we would likely have gone our whole lives without discovering this, so in a sense, they’ve given us a really precious experience.

Since kids are enjoying their summer holidays, the zoo is currently open every day and the Cockroach Fest will continue until August 31, if you are interested in making some unique memories.

▼ Tokuyama Zoo


▼Gulp. The dreaded exhibition hall.


▼ Think that’s enough posters?


▼ Madagascar Cockroaches, ready to meet and mingle


▼ They’re huuuuuuuuuge!


▼ Hmm, maybe I can handle this…


▼ Other visitors are handling it OK too.


▼ You can see cockroaches from around the world.


▼ “Quietly open the cupboard.”


▼ GAAAAAH! … Oh wait, they’re fake.


▼ Cockroaches everywhere…


▼ You can learn about cockroach anatomy.


▼ Photo op!


▼ It’s a giant roach motel.


▼ And matching cockroach hats!


▼ I snuck a shot while there weren’t any kids around.


▼ I want to see a roach race!


      ▼ Apparently, roaches like the dark so they run towards the black bit.



Thanks for the report, Takashi! You are a much braver soul than I.

Photos © RocketNews24