Tokyo summers are hot. I learned that 3 seconds after stepping off the plane at Narita airport one year ago in the middle of July. I’m re-living that experience again now. A few months ago I was priding myself on my ability to cocoon myself in my heated room and snuggle into a nest of blankets when I slept.
Now I’m just trying to maintain arctic levels of cool in my abode so I can get ready for work without having to take two showers.
One of my adult students talked at length with me recently about summers in Japan. The summer here is hot in a soul crushing, sweat gland-wrenching, sticky, messy, disgusting sort of way (for us foreign folk, at least). For the majority of the summer, the temperature stays between about 80-95 degrees Fahrenheit (29-34 Celsius). Humidity is high – 80% humidity was common during my stay last summer.
What my student explained to me was about the transitory period between the rainy season and the summer. At the end of Japan’s season of rain (which isn’t really all that rainy), there’s about 10 days of ungodly, maddening heat combined with body enveloping humidity. It’s brutal. I’ve been going to work in shorts and flip flops and changing at the office because if I don’t, my clothes are drenched in sweat by the time I walk through the door. Today we experienced temperatures of 98 degrees with high humidity, and as a result, they entire city walked around mumbling “atssssuuuuuiii” (it’s hoooooot) to one another today.
If nothing else, it’s a good conversation topic, and one that everyone agrees on, which the Japanese tend to like.
The air feels thick and heavy, movements are sluggish, and I find my appetite decreasing as the days get warmer still. The A/C runs at full blast whenever I’m home, and it’s only a matter of time before our noisy insect friends the cicada begin to chirp nonstop for a few weeks straight.
Summer is probably the most uncomfortable time for me in this country, but with the season comes plenty to do. This is the season for fireworks, for little town dances and climbing Mt. Fuji. It’s for having beach BBQ’s with your friends and having drinks in the park. Summers here may be horrendous, especially for the foreign crowd, but I like to think we make the best of them.
And if all else fails, there’s always popcorn, movies, and a good air conditioner.