Friday, July 22, 2011

Myoden and Summer

Summer’s here. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that i was commenting (well, complaining) about how long the Japanese winter was lingering around stubbornly refusing to succumb to the spring. So i guess i should be happy that summer is here, the heat has started, the humidity has cranked itself up and all of a sudden everybody is sweating like a penguin in a sauna. Summer in east Asia is a bit like being steamed or slow roasted in a pressure cooker. It doesn’t hit you like a wall of heat but gently bakes you until all of your bodily fluids have vacated their normal positions and instead relocated to your underwear and, for some reason, your lower back.

This is just the beginning. July is the starter. August and early September are worse. The government has launched the wonderfully titled Japan Meteorological Association Extreme High Temperature Forecast. This is very nearly useless. It’s designed to give different regions morning warnings if it's going to be more than 35 degrees. It's almost always going to be more than 35 degrees. It's a bit like having an Oxygen Warning or The Sky Is Blue Update or Rupert Murdoch Owns Some Dodgy Newspapers Forecast. But it's a fantastic name. One of my mates already wants to start a band called The Japan Meteorological Association Extreme High Temperature Forecast.

Unfortunately The Japan Meteorological Association Extreme High Temperature Forecast doesn’t seem to follow any of my simple/useless advice for aggressively humid summers.
1. Go for swim in the morning.
2. Eat ice cream in the afternoon.
3. Drink ice cold beer in the evening.
4. Stop complaining about the heat. It makes it worse. Much worse. Why do we do it? Why do we always tell each other it’s hot? Sometimes people will just say, “Wah, it’s hot today!” as a greeting. Why? We know it’s hot. We’ve got fully functioning nervous systems and smelly feet. We are aware that it’s hot. Stop telling us it’s hot. It’s Ju-fucking-ly. It’s always hot. Everyday. Saying the word “hot” every five minutes makes it hotter. Shut up.

The only rest bite comes when there’s a typhoon which blows the heavy sticky air around for a few days and floods everything but that seems more like a punishment for eating too much ice cream and drinking too much beer.

All of this is making headline news here more than usual due to the fact that the half the nuclear power plants in the country aren’t back online yet, Fukushima nuclear plant is still the same as it was in March and so everybody is saving electric, using less air-con and drinking more cold beer. Hand fans are now a more common accessory than an iphone on the trains and buses. Everybody carries a little handkerchief/sweat blanket thing to wipe the sweat out of the eyes and off their faces. Shops sell “ice scarves” that have some kind of chemical jelly in them and you stick it in the freezer and then wear it on the way to work hoping to keep off the heat. I think i might get one, stick it down my pants and wait for autumn.

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