How do you say August in Japan?
Twice Daily Showers.
Living through two 100°F+ summers in Texas did not prepare me for Japan's 34°C+ August days which are literally dripping with excessive humidity. The sun rises at 5am and the day's heat rises with it. Any outdoor activity, no matter how strenuous (or not) results in clothing-soaked perspiration.
It is a half mile walk for me to exit our neighborhood and I feel the heat well before I get there. After the next half mile to the train station I am already dripping down my forehead, arms and back, thanks in part to my back pack. I stay well-hydrated with a Camelbak bottle always within reach and am even beginning to take two lately when I go out.
Most local businesses practice light air-conditioning, I'm unsure if is for cost-control or simply a cultural preference, and though the temperature may sometimes be a bit warm inside it is nice not to be blasted with the hot air upon leaving. It does seem that maintaining a moderate temperature indoors greatly helps transitioning to the heat outdoors. I have discovered, however, that while on a train the open area just inside the doors receives excellent air-conditioning flow, it is worth standing for.
Common practice here when living with such oppressive heat includes women walking with open umbrellas shielding the sun, almost everyone carrying small cloths to wipe brows dry, and many wrap cool towels around their necks as well. You see everywhere the ubiquitous use of fans among both men and women, especially on the train platforms where the air is still and with every passing train you hope to catch a small breeze. Every ¥100 store carries a selection of fans and small cloths just in case you happen to be without.
When the afternoon sun begins it's descent, and I'm walking home on the shadier side of the street, my clothes are stuck to my skin, my hands are swollen, and I'm swearing that I'm not leaving the house again until October. My routine once I step through the front door follows this order: backpack comes off, shoes are removed, a cold glass of water is gulped, perishable foods are thrown in the fridge, walk upstairs, literally peel off clothes and step into the shower.
Because of this treacherous, humidity-bearing heat I regulate my outings carefully, watching the weather while planning and condensing my errands. The struggle with this lies in the fact that I am living in this incredible country for only three short years and the with guilt of not taking advantage of it every single day. Now is the perfect time, while I'm not working and with very little household items to take care of, to spend my time exploring. As a side note, however, while I'm not working I'm also not generating income – I'm broke, I have no money in my accounts. My past freedoms and activities were generally self-funded and living without that is more difficult than I can currently write about.
But this is August in Japan, my first August in Japan, and I have two more. In a couple weeks the temperatures will begin to incrementally decrease making the outdoors much more inviting. I'll be able to use my camera without sweaty fingers slipping over buttons and walk many more miles without feeling as if every step was leading me closer to the infernal depths of hell. But wouldn't hell be a dry heat...?
(Atsui-desu-ne. - It's hot.)