What kinds of spiders can you find in Japan?
Many people are terrified of spiders and find them extremely creepy. This is unfortunate because not only are most spiders completely harmless, but they benefit our environment by controlling the insect population. In fact, without spiders, our food supply would be in serious jeopardy.
Before we begin, I want you to know that the list below is just a fraction of the spiders in Japan. Because of the sheer number of these arachnids, it would be impossible to cover them all. For example, some estimates claim over 50,000 kinds of spiders on the planet (and the list is still growing)!
In today’s article, I did my best to develop a list of spiders you’re most likely to see.
Here are 14 common SPIDERS that live in Japan!
#1. Giant Golden Orbweaver
- Nephila pilipes
- Females are 30–50 mm (1.1-1.9 in), but their overall size, including their legs, is up to 20 cm (7.9 in).
- Males are much smaller, up to 5–6 mm (0.19-0.23 in).
- Their coloring is a stripy yellow and black with black legs with lighter-colored joints.
Giant Golden Orbweavers prefer habitats with no direct sunlight. This makes them perfectly adapted to live in dense rainforests and jungles. They build webs in bushes and trees near water sources.
Like many spiders, the females of this species are MUCH larger than the males. However, the Giant Golden Orbweaver takes it to a whole new level. Just look at the pair below and how the female dwarfs her partner!
The most surprising thing about this spider in Japan is that it’s a picky eater!
Incredibly, it only eats a few species of insects and will throw many others out of its web instead of eating them. To ensure they have enough of their preferred food source, they cache desirable food and store it in their webs for later.
Despite their intimidating appearance, Giant Golden Orbweavers aren’t dangerous to humans. Bites are rare, and symptoms are usually mild, involving muscle soreness or tightness. Symptoms go away on their own and don’t usually require medical treatment.
#2. Joro Spider
- Trichonephila clavata
- Females are 17–25 mm (0.66-0.98 in) long, while males are 7–10 mm 0.27-0.39 in).
- This species has blue and yellow stripes on the abdomen with a red patch near the back. Its legs are black with bands of yellow.
- The legs have brushy sections of dense hair.
Look for Joro Spiders in Japan in both forests and populated locations.
Interestingly, this species has also spread to North America. For example, populations have been discovered in Georgia and South Carolina. Joro Spiders are resistant to cold weather, and extreme conditions, so many researchers believe this intimidating-looking spider will eventually become naturalized across the eastern United States.
This species isn’t aggressive, but it will occasionally bite if provoked or handled roughly, and its venom can cause a lot of pain. However, it isn’t life-threatening, so don’t be too scared!
There is a mythological creature in Japanese folklore modeled after the Joro Spider, called Jorōgumo. Despite the species’ relative harmlessness, the Jorōgumo is not a creature you’d want to cross. According to legend, it can breathe fire, control other spiders, and shapeshift into a beautiful woman and devour unsuspecting men!
#3. Black and White Spiny Spider
- Gasteracantha kuhli
- Females‘ abdomens are 6-9 mm (0.23-0.35 in) wide. Their abdomens are hardened and armored with six spines.
- Males‘ abdomens are 3-4 mm (0.11-0.15 in) wide. They are also hard-bodied, but they have rounded bumps instead of spines.
- Both sexes are black and white with short legs.
The Black and White Spiny Spider is different from most spiders in Japan!
This small orb-weaving spider has a hardened body that protects it from predators. The most interesting feature is its sharp spines that cover the back of the abdomen. Despite its small size, this spider won’t take any attacks lying down.
Additionally, its coloring is similar to a Rorschach inkblot test. The designs on its back can take the shape of anything from a skull to a cuddly panda! I can see a cat’s face and a little dog in the examples above. 🙂
Black and White Spiny Spiders spend most of their time in webs constructed in shrubs. They wait for prey to become tangled up, then wrap it in silk before eating.
#4. Multi-colored Phintella
- Phintelloides versicolor
- Adults are around 6-7 mm (0.23-0.27 in) long.
- They vary in color from pale cream to nearly black and often have markings in shades of brown, yellow, or red.
- Their legs are short in comparison to their abdomens.
Multi-colored Phintella Spiders can be difficult to identify because of their wide range of colors. Just look at the photos above; based on their coloring, it might be hard to believe those two spiders are the same species! However, despite their differing shades, their body shape and uniquely large middle eyes make them hard to mistake for any other spider.
These small jumping spiders prefer to live in forests and buildings in tropical climates. They don’t usually build webs but instead hunt for prey on the forest floor.
Multi-colored Phintellas use their varied coloring as camouflage. For example, if one of these spiders lives in the forest, it might be shades of dark brown to blend in with tree bark. However, a city-dwelling spider is better served by pale coloring to hide on light-colored floors or walls.
#5. Pointillist Neoscona
- Neoscona punctigera
- Females measure about 1.1 cm (0.43 in) and males are about 0.7 cm (0.28 in) long.
- Males are black and white with striped abdomens and spiky hairs all over the body and legs.
- Females are a dull brown, covered in hairs, and generally larger but not as striking as males.
Pointillist Neoscona Spiders are widespread in Japan and well-known for an unusual reason.
These spiders are often used for spider-fighting, where spiders are pitted against one another and made to fight. Although the practice can be brutal and is often discouraged, it is fairly widespread.
In fact, school children often set up spider fights to place bets and earn pocket money from other kids during the school day. The fights have become so distracting in some schools that school administrators have had to step in!
Pointillist Neosconas are used because the females are aggressive and territorial. They won’t tolerate another female in their presence, instead fighting for dominance. Unfortunately, the winning spider often kills the loser after the battle is over.
In the wild, Pointillist Neoscona Spiders spend their time in their webs, waiting for food to become trapped. As a result, they don’t often enter homes and aren’t aggressive toward people unless they’re handled roughly.
#6. Bird-dropping Spider
- Celaenia excavata
- Females are about 12 mm (0.47 in) long, while males are only 2.5 mm (0.09 in) long.
- These spiders are distinctly lumpy and irregular, with mottled white and brown coloring.
- Their legs are short and often curled under the body.
One look at the Bird-dropping Spider in Japan is all you need to know where its name came from!
This spider is a master of disguise, and its chosen costume is – you guessed it – bird poop. It has a lumpy, shapeless abdomen and short legs. Combined with its white and brown coloring, it’s easy to completely pass this spider by without a second thought.
Incredibly, its distinctive looks aren’t the weirdest thing about this species! Bird-dropping Spiders also have an unusual way of catching a meal. First, they release a pheromone that mimics the scent of female moths, luring male moths in. Then, once the moth gets near enough, the spider grabs it with its powerful legs.
Even if you miss the actual spider because of its amazing camouflage, you’ll probably notice its distinctive egg sacs. They’re almost as large as the spider itself, light brown in color, and hang from thin strands of silk in bunches or rows.
#7. Wasp Spider
- Argiope bruennichi
- Striking yellow and black markings across its body.
- The legs also have stripes.
- Females are around 17 mm (0.66 in). Males measure less than 5 mm (0.19 in).
This species is one of the most recognizable spiders in Japan!
These spiders get their name from their unique coloration, which is meant to resemble a wasp. Predators tend to leave them alone since they think they will be messing with a fierce stinging insect. 🙂
Wasp Spiders make beautiful orb-shaped webs in the morning. Interestingly, they construct a distinctive zig-zag pattern called a Stabilimentum in the center of the web, which is thought to help attract insects by reflecting UV light. Look for them in sunny, open fields or gardens.
Despite their bright coloring, Wasp Spiders are not dangerous to humans. They are not aggressive and will only bite if seriously provoked.
#8. Long-bodied Cellar Spider
- Pholcus phalangioides
Also known as Daddy Longlegs, Skull Spider
- The cephalothorax (head) and abdomen are different shades of brown.
- Females have a body length of around 8 mm (0.31 in), with males slightly smaller.
- Legs are long and about 5 to 6 times the length of the body.
Do you know the spider that always seems to be in the corner of your basement? Well, it’s most likely the Long-bodied Cellar Spider! These long, thin, and delicate spiders are commonly found in homes and buildings as they prefer warm habitats. I know that every time I clean my basement with a vacuum, a few of these spiders end up getting sucked inside.
Some people find cellar spiders beneficial because they are known to hunt down and kill other types of spiders. But unfortunately, they will also eradicate native spider species. Interestingly, these spiders will leave their webs to hunt for other spiders! Once they find one, they subdue their victim, using their long legs to avoid being bitten in retaliation.
Despite their proximity to people, they are not dangerous and are not known to bite humans.
#9. Common House Spider
- Parasteatoda tepidariorum
- Both sexes can appear anywhere from nearly black to a variety of colors.
- They sometimes have patterns of different colors on their body.
- Females are larger than males, but females have a bulb-like abdomen, and males do not.
These spiders are found in Japan NEAR PEOPLE!
I know that I always find them in my garage! It always surprises me how small Common House Spiders really are, as they are generally only between 5-6 millimeters (0.20-0.24 in) long.
Even though there are probably a few of them in your house right now, you shouldn’t hate or fear Common House Spiders. They are actually helpful because they feed on small insects and pests in your house, like flies, ants, and mosquitos.
Even though they are relatively docile, bites do occur, mostly due to their proximity to humans. But have no fear; their venom is not dangerous in the least.
#10. Triangle Crab Spider
- Ebrechtella tricuspidata
- Females have a whitish-yellow abdomen with red markings. The rest of the body and legs are light green.
- Males are light brown, but their abdomen is pale green.
- Females reach a body length of 5–6 mm (0.19-0.23 in). Males are smaller, reaching a body length of 2.5–3.5 mm (0.09-0.13 in).
The best places to find Triangle Crab Spiders are inside flowers and on other vegetation in dry and sunny meadows and forest edges. Look closely because they blend in well with their surroundings!
These spiders don’t make webs but instead wait patiently for their prey to come to them. Then they use their long first and second legs to overpower their victim.
Did you know that crab spiders get their name from the unique way they can walk sideways, forwards, and backward, similar to a crab?!
#11. Adanson’s House Jumper
- Hasarius adansoni
- Males have more colorful bodies, with black abdomen color and two white crescents on their bodies. They grow up to 6 mm (0.23 in).
- Females are dark brown and don’t have any noticeable pattern, and are about 8 mm (0.31 in) long.
- Both sexes have long legs covered with spines and hairs.
The Adanson’s House Jumper lives in warm climates all over Japan. Its natural habitats include woodland and low vegetation, but since they are highly adaptable, they can be found in any terrestrial area.
Although they can reuse their nests, they usually build new ones each night. Their webs are relatively small, about twice the size of the spider. The Adanson’s House Jumper is quite sociable and can be seen grouped in bigger numbers.
One of the most interesting traits of this species is its ability to jump incredible distances. They hunt by leaping several centimeters onto their prey, grabbing them, and injecting venom by bite.
#12. Pantropical Jumping Spider
- Plexippus paykulli
- Adult females range from 9-12 mm (0.35-0.47 in) long, while adult males range from 9-11 mm (0.35-0.43 in) long.
- Females are brownish gray and darker on their back and head, especially around the eyes, and have a broad tan stripe that extends onto the abdomen.
- Males are black with a broad white central stripe and two white spots near the rear of the abdomen.
Pantropical Jumping Spiders live near buildings, in citrus groves, and in cotton fields. They cleverly spend time around light sources that attract insect prey.
Unlike many spiders in Japan, Pantropical Jumping Spiders do not construct a web. Instead, they construct silken retreats, often in the corner of a ceiling or other elevated position. They use this retreat to rest and hide between hunting.
Although they look incredibly dangerous, Pantropical Jumping Spiders will only bite if handled roughly. Their bites are relatively harmless and may resemble a bee sting or be even milder.
#13. Pantropical Huntsman Spider
- Heteropoda venatoria
- Adults are between 2.2 and 2.8 cm (0.86-1.10 in) long with a leg span of 7-12 cm (2.8-4.72 in).
- Females have larger bodies, and males have longer legs.
- Both sexes are brown with yellow or cream markings and distinct black spots on their legs.
The Pantropical Huntsman Spider is native to Japan but is a bit of a world traveler! They’re often called banana spiders because they hitch a ride in tropical fruit imports, making their way to other parts of the world. These fearsome-looking spiders thrive in areas with warm climates but are occasionally found in greenhouses and heated buildings in temperate climates.
Because of their need for warmth, Pantropical Huntsman Spiders slip into small cracks and crevices around homes, barns, and sheds. Luckily, they’re most active at night, so your chances of disturbing one are fairly low. Additionally, their venom is not dangerous to humans. However, they can deliver a painful bite that might swell and turn red.
As you may have guessed from their name, this species is an accomplished predator. Instead of trapping prey in webs, they rely on their speed and strength, grabbing prey with their jaws and injecting venom into it. In fact, people in many tropical countries like them because they feed on cockroaches and other pests.
#14. Gray Wall Jumping Spider
- Menemerus bivittatus
- This species has a flattened torso and short, thick, greyish-white hair. Tufts of dark brown hair grow close to the eyes.
- The male has a brownish-white stripe on each side of the abdomen and a black dorsal stripe.
- The female has a larger abdomen and is typically lighter brown. In addition, her abdomen is rimmed with broad black stripes that come together at the end.
- Both sexes are about 9 mm (0.3 in) long, but males are usually slightly smaller.
The Gray Wall Jumping Spider is native to Japan but has since spread worldwide. It frequently appears on the exterior of buildings or tree trunks in gardens.
Instead of weaving a web around their prey, the Gray Wall Jumping spider stalks the prey before springing on it to attack. Their wide eyes and visual acuity allow them to focus easily on objects and distinguish between different colors. And, using their exceptional jumping ability, they can seize their prey in the blink of an eye.
Interestingly, male Gray Wall Jumping Spiders can produce sounds as part of courtship behavior. The hairs on their femurs and the teeth on the chelicerae (small claws on the front of the mouth) make clicking noises that attract females. These sounds are too low and quiet for humans to hear, but it isn’t hard to imagine the creepy noise!
Check out these other guides about animals found in Japan!
Which of these spiders have you seen before in Japan?
Leave a comment below!