Can’t Stand the Heat? Tell Me About It.

*Invitation: Link to me & tell us about your neck of the woods in its fiercest heat!  Bloggers may send me your link, answering this sweltering prompt.  imag0221

I generally stay bubbly and positive, zinging about town like a just-opened bottle of seltzer. My goodness, though! By seven AM, Tokyo is crazy hot. You could go out to check the mail and come back drenched. Ug. Sometimes it is just so humid, you forget mid-sentence what


Did you know? 

To say, “It’s so hot” in Japanese is “atsui” (ahh-tsu-ee) あつい or 暑い.

The humidity is what gets you, though, in Tokyo. “It’s humid” is “mushi atsui desu”. This is practical when you and fellow parents pick drop off your kids in the AM and everyone could use another shower, ten minutes after their last one.

Mushi atsui” (mooshee aht-stu-ee) could also mean “sultry”, which makes it sound a little hot in a different way. Can you imagine complaining in English that you’re feeling sultry? Translate apps can old help you so much; this is the fun part of culture and linguistics.

What to do?

Japanese summers mean parasols, cold mugi cha (barley tea, which is caffeine-free, and even given to small tots), iced shiso soda (a fuchsia syrup made from red shiso (perilla) leaves which is unbelievably thirst quenching and good, festivals with locals clad in jimbei–cotton kimono-wrap style shirts with matching elastic shorts or pants, and all of the icy beer, food, and sun quintessential to festivals, or matsuri.



White peaches called momo, as well as watermelon, suica, are enjoyed daily. Corn, tomatoes, every fresh piece of produce is devoured in summer. Long speared cucumber on a stick is popular, as is salted fish.

Air conditioners only cool individual rooms, unlike central cooling which takes care of everything under a roof. People use fans. They make green curtains of vining flowers and produce like cucumbers and goya, which is a horribly bumpy bitter melon. Fastening or propping-up bamboo curtains also blocks the sun and adds shade to a room.

I’m working on my vining jasmine, morning glory, and moonflower now. Basically, Tokyoites deal with heat by embracing the total season. Besides working to stay cool, beware of voracious mosquitoes, or ka. We burn special incense coils in gardens or outside of our front doors to discourage loitering mosquitoes.

In summer, women will bike with UV blocking sleeves which cover their whole hand and arm up to the elbow or upper arm.

These are just a few examples of what makes summer in Tokyo memorable!


So I’m wondering about you!

Do you live in an area of dry or wet heat? Can you live in flip-flops in the summer, so close to the Equator, maybe? Or are you in the Southern Hemisphere, and you contend with heat while others experience December snow? Do you eat gobs of spicy food in your family, to cool your bodies down? Maybe you just throw spices in everything, go barefoot and don shoes only when needed. And maybe to stay cool, you feel the need to stand in front of an oscillating fan, practicing your best robot voice in a grand rendition of “You’re a Grand Ol’ Flag”. Maybe you throw efficiency to the wind and stand in front of an open fridge, frosty can pressed to your head.


Tell us where you live, where you go to kill the heat. Or maybe you adore it and can’t get enough? Do tell.

Tell us your ways to combat the humid or bone-dry-sweltering-we’re -in-the-oven-heat!

Tell us your family’s/region’s drinks, food, you name it!

What does your block in Sacramento do, say? Or your villa residents in Manilla?

Show and tell us your tricks–the region’s drinks, food, you name it!

Use pictures, vocabulary, comedy, all sorts of tips!


Red shiso soda is the best of the best, with or without alcohol.

wpid-img_20150606_101257.jpg Go!

Putting it Out There

I was quiet about it at first. I was a bit embarrassed over such a personal, belief-soaked essay being out there.

Views on Israel, views on faith. Pictures of us. It was big. Kinda nuts.

Here it is, My Hope, Less Fears, appearing in Asian Jewish Life.


All gorgeous pics, like this one, are by the superbly talented Mel Willms

Believe me, the version before the snipping of the editor’s knife was much scarier, much more sensory in terms of oh, a scene where I am without shirt, without bra, getting hooked up to an EKG.
It’s scary to be raw and real. To put yourself out there, like a piece of white bread that can be wiped, smeared, and ripped.

You know, though? Freedom lives in truth and truth is true healing.

Truth doesn’t have to be fancied up or spun. There is the moon, there is sun. There is us. It is not so hard.

I am checking my motivation and wanting the kind of freedom that shakes the other stuff away.

I believe in the power of real free speech.

I don’t ever want to hide under a bushel, under a veil or screen if it means something is missing.

Let it be that I am an encourager, one who battles to make a way.

This is the start of bigger writing, maybe.

More evidence of really living and not being so quick to hide.

I have lots more stories of nerves getting hold of me, but the stories of launching my body over

a pole are quickly overtaking the fearful tales. The faith is winning, most days.

Fill Your Beach Bag or City Tote with 3 Expat Stories

Three Expat Women. Three international love stories. One book giveaway.

Summer is time to let loose in flip-flops and cut-off shorts, reading the books that will mark time.

Were you that student who backpacked through Thailand, or summered in The Cape?

Maybe you doubled-up on college courses and only daydreamed of such travel, instead, watching Brokedown Palace for the fifty-sixth time, while combing through Seventeen or Vogue, NatGeo, or Ms.

Maybe you still crave the expanse of wild summer.


Here is your chance to dig into 3 fabulous expat stories within these gorgeous memoirs:

Maybe you’ll win all three! Maybe you’ll buy them for your Kindle. Take them on the plane or read, beach side, or on lunch break, adjacent to spicy noodles.
Did you know–memoir doesn’t only belong to the women who stick around long enough to grow five necks or have lived twelve decades, through five wars, across all continents, and the far-reaches of Everest? Memoir is a young, unfolding drama with stars who inspire and stories that are yet moving pictures, fireworks and evenings told with the stroke of a calligraphy brush in midnight ink. Memoir can still make you blush.

These are three that I’m touting, three you could win, buy, and shout about.

Truth be told, the only one I have not yet read is Year of Fire Dragons, by Shannon Young.

Thing is–I already know I’ll love it. Young, a twenty-something millennial, jettisons to Hong Kong, perhaps chasing a boy and moving towards their relationship (Long distance sure is tough). He leaves with work to London, only one month into her royal gesture at love, at being together, and that’s that, maybe. How uncomfortable! What gall! What opportunity. This sounds like a story.

Shannon is left to wander Hong Kong and do some growing-up and maybe a bit of growing in love, with the city. Anyways, any story considered a “Coming of Age” story, means I’ll love it. Plus, Hong Kong is intriguing. I want to see it through her eyes, the Fragrant Harbor jutting out from the sea and surrounding mountains, glittering skyscrapers, every food, every eyeful new and strange, the exotic, told by someone who could be my own friend. What a chance to see a new part of Asia and the world! Memoirs that are a bit travel writing, a bit exoticism, perhaps food writing sprinkled in, and the actual story laid-out with beauty. Let’s all be eager to report on this book, and the lot of them!

Shannon is also, mighty impressively, the editor of How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit in Asia: True Stories From Expat Women in Asia. The editor. At twenty-something. Sign me up for some of that talent and chutzpah.


Next up? The Good Shufu, by Tracy Slater!

I finally had the privilege of sitting down with this witty, winsome Boston-native, over iced coffees and lots of laughs.

Tracy’s memoir is the story of a Jewish, liberal, intellectual with a PhD from Brandeis, finding herself teaching a bunch of Japanese MBA students in Osaka, Japan. She moves for love, but must negotiate the “back and forths”, in Boston, where she is equipped and confident, to an island across the world, where she is an absolutely dependent shufu, or housewife, without the abilities to be independent (Gee, sound like someone else I know??).

Keep watch for my author profile on Tracy, posted on my blog and some very fine publications. The Good Shufu is part of Barnes and Nobles’ Summer 2015 Discover Great New Writers Selection. Say you first found her here. Wink.

This is for anyone navigating the cultural complexities of and escapades of life–the wish and want of motherhood, and the unlikely ways that home unfolds in your heart. The farthest point on a map can be your most rewarding, comforting hope.


More on Tracy’s Website

Here Comes the Sun is heralded writer, Leza Lowitz’s, baby–her memoir, that is. Leza is the dynamic poet, novelist, master of multi-genre, who now brings us her personal story. Leza and I met this past week, over lunch, the very same day her jewel launched into the word. It is the story of a young woman, climbing up and out of Berkeley, at a very poignant time, to grow, learn and change, finding her story and biggest love in Japan.

She speaks of the very palpable desire for a child, and all the ways she goes about fulfilling this. Here Comes the Sun is about heart, and draws on the structure of the body’s 8 chakras to provide a framework for her healing and the moving from external to sacred.

Leza is a poet and owner of a Tokyo yoga studio, alongside partner and husband, Shogo Oketani. The two have a mighty pile of books they could sign, including Jet Black and the Ninja Wind, a powerful collaboration that illuminates the duality of the main character’s two cultures, and a changing, sometimes warring world.

Profile to come, ala Melibelle in Tokyo, and elsewhere, mes amis.

It’s summer. What an aptly-named memoir release, so many years into the making. Here it comes.



Ready to enter?? You have three days! Perhaps, you will be the lucky summer scorer, receiving this whole bundle and all the hopes of these expats’ happily-ever-afters. Perhaps you’ll read these memoirs, fruity drink in hand, and perhaps you’ll sketch out some bigger-than-life plans for your next summer, your next undertaking for love and all the sometimes feelings of disaster that being an expat in Asia can precipitate. Perhaps you’ll just stay in Iowa and breathe deep, taking in all the scents and images of dragonfruit, tempura, and udon with curry.

Happy Raffling!

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