Summer Grumbles

If there is any time of the year that I feel ‘meh’ then this is it. The change of the seasons means that we’re in that zone right between spring and summer where the weather is just nice enough but has started tending towards being humid and sticky during some parts of the day.

Back in South Africa I was fortunate enough to live in Cape Town where we have mild winters and rather dry and hot summers and while the summers could get rather high temperatures there was always the option of jumping in the pool or heading off to the beach with friends to cool down.

Japanese summers on the other hand usually see my laying in a puddle of sweat on the floor wishing that I could jump into a huge pile of snow to cool down. The only time I’m not 99.9% sweat is the brief moment that I’m in the shower, but as soon as I step out I’m immediately sweating profusely.

Maybe it’s just my South African constitution that is unused to taking such abuse but I’ve found that this time of year I’m almost constantly battling fatigue and the desire to sleep most of the time. The high humidity of summer means that you really have to motivate yourself to get up and be energetic.

It’s no surprise then that most people will flock to shops or public places like libraries just to bask in the aircon they offer. The Japanese government also started a Cool Biz campaign a few years back to try and curb high electricity costs by asking the legions of salarymen and office ladies to wear more casual and lighter clothes to work.

Despite all the moaning and groaning I tend to do about the high humidity summer is still one of my favorite times of the year simply because almost every week there is a summer festival of some sort going on. You can’t help but cheer up when you see the hundreds of people lining the streets having fun talking with their friends and families, the lines of stalls selling festival foods that make your mouth water and your stomach rumble, and the fireworks shows that end off the night with a literal bang.

I was lucky just recently to attend the Firefly Summer Festival in Tatsuno which is a rather famous festival that sees hundreds upon hundreds of people flock to the town over the course of a week to watch the first fireflies of summer come out in the evening. For me it was both a chance to see fireflies for the first time in my life as well as chow down on way too much good food! We were also lucky enough to get a good place in the firefly park when the sun went down so that we could see a whole swarm of fireflies flying around. It was pretty cool to see! When we left the park afterwards we were happy to see that we had somehow missed the worst of the rush as there was still a very long queue of people waiting to get in the park!

So while summer might be a rough time and not as ‘fun’ as the summers I’ve had back home, they are still a wonderful time to spend with friends and family in Japan. Then again, as a South African you could give me some meat and a braai and I’d be happy just about anywhere in the world!