Thursday, September 29, 2005


The one thing about living in a country as hot as Japan is during summer is that any slight drop in temperature is felt quite a lot. There is no heat in the night now, which is really refreshing, but something of a shock to the system as well! In the space of a week, I've gone from sleeping in the buff, with aircon and no blankets, to wearing a t-shirt, switching the AC off, and using my duvet.

It's not really cold, but there is a definite chill in the air. I use hot water for showers now, and the glass on my bathroom mirror gets misted up when I come out. There was condensation on the insides of my windows this morning. The shops are starting to sell nabe broth (nabe is a tradtional type of Japanese stew, very delicious, and eaten in the winter months). The kaki (persimmon) are starting to turn orange on the trees. The leaves of trees are taking on a faint yellow/brown hue. Yup, summer is truly gone, and the country is preparing to hunker down for another long winter.

This sort of thing is the best part of living in Japan for me: the change of the seasons. It is so marked, the change is not a gradual process, but one that happens noticeably over the course of two or three weeks. I love how there are four distinct times of year, rather than the long grey nothingness of the UK. I think it's very good for mental health as well. Something about your surroundings fitting in with your state of mind. Maybe that's why so many people get SAD in the UK? Because although it gets colder, and darker, there is no proper change of season, just a gentle decline into it. So people still wonder when the next warm day will be, still think of summer activities. In Japan, people sense the winter coming, and change their lives to reflect this. They adapt their activities to deal with the different weather, and I think this has a good effect on their minds. In Britain, we associate summer with good living, but this doesn't have to be the case. Winter in Japan is full of activity. It's hard going, because it's so cold, but if you keep yourself busy (not hard to do!) then you can have a really good time of it, as good as in the summer.

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