Of Mice Rats and Men

mysterious mouse silhouetteTo be a country where everything is small, Japan certainly has large mice. Over here, we’d call them rats; but the Japanese call them mice. (That is, the Japanese word nezumi encompasses the whole delightful species.)

Now, the Japanese people are small. When I lived there, I was directed to the LARGE department for a size 7½ shoe. The coffee cups were the size of thimbles. My stadium cushion is wider than the sofa we bought in Japan. And a Honda City car was almost as big as a golf cart (but not as fast).

But the “mice” are big. The first Japanese mouse I saw was actually a skeleton my missionary father-in-law discovered in his kitchen in Isehara City. He yanked it out along with some loose wiring from behind the paneling. My goodness! No wonder the refrigerator wasn’t working properly. What he’d uncovered could have been the remains of Jimmy Hoffa!

This rat…I mean mouse…must’ve been the grandfather of the one we had been trying to catch in my in-laws’ house. Once in the middle of the night, Dad had awakened when the thing ran across his face. Mom left for the beauty shop early the next morning and didn’t come home for a week.

When that mouse was finally cornered under the bed one day, the cat was recruited for service. But the cat seemed completely unaware of why he’d been tossed into the bedroom. Used to being fed canned Japanese mackerel in a nice green bowl, he wasn’t an active hunter.

But when the mouse jumped onto the bed, the cat stiffened. And the moment the mouse rocketed toward the closet, the cat sprang into action. For one instant the two creatures (which were exactly the same size!) hung suspended in flight. Then the laws of nature took over: the cat snapped the mouse’s neck in mid-air—but had to have help dragging it away.

Then there was the time a rat…uh, mouse…decided to take a bath while my husband was in the bathroom. My husband, sitting beside the tub on a low stool, Japanese fashion, had reached for the soap, only to have the mouse hand it to him! I can’t begin to describe the racket that followed as they both attempted to be the first one out the door.

And what about that night I lay drifting in and out of sleep with the flu? Semi-conscious, I was hearing two distinct sounds: One was my husband down the hall, on the phone. The other was a mouse chewing its way through the floor into my room.

With a titanic effort, I leaped from my sickbed, gave a giant STOMP near the chewing sound, and then had to dash for the bathroom.

Running past my husband, and trying hard not to faint, I was unable to think of the Japanese word nezumi So I yelled in English, “RAAATTTTTTT!” He dropped the phone, grabbed the unabridged dictionary as a weapon, and went in search while I threw up.

We had many mouse experiences during our ten years of mission work in Japan. But in all the churches we visited, we didn’t see a single church mouse. Not once.

I’m thinking maybe they had their own denomination.


© 2018 Lynn Lusby Pratt

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2 thoughts on “Of Mice Rats and Men

  1. This is well written and HILARIOUS, Lynn! The first house we moved to (on our own, after living with Lonnie’s parents for a while) didn’t have mice/rats, but it did have every kind of insect known to mankind. We spent the first few months ridding the house of said vermin–not an easy task…

  2. I had a 8 inch centapeed call of the ceiling into my bare back. That seemed to be average size in the mountains north of Kyoto,?

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