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!