An Open Letter to Japanese Weather

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Dear Japan,

We have to talk about your weather.

Let’s start with the rainy season (coming soon to a sky near you).

I come from the U.K. Everybody knows that it rains a lot in England and that’s why we all wear bowler hats and say things like “Spiffing!” through crooked teeth. However, the rain is normally of the drizzly variety and is almost always accompanied by a depressing, gray sky. You know exactly what to expect when you go out in public: cold, puddles and other people tut-tutting.

However, in Japan, not only do I have to deal with a waterfall above my head at every step but a temperature that changes between hot and cold as quickly as it rains. It’s too hot to cover yourself from the rain, yet too cold to wear a shirt. I’m steaming yet I’m freezing at the same time. The only consistency comes in the form of a damp feeling that never goes away. What’s that all about?

OK. I admit that Japanese umbrellas are able to withstand most of what the Japanese clouds have to offer — besides typhoons — but that’s because they are enormous, pointy and also a danger to people around me if I’m carrying one.

After the rain, comes summer…

I’m British. I’m not used to any form of heat or even witnessing this “sun” that everyone else seems to be such a fan. A trip to France was like a saunter into Mordor wearing a boiler suit.

During the summer in Japan, every time I step out the front door it feels like an open oven is constantly emitting stale heat into my face. Or perhaps that’s my blood boiling from the temperature. What I really don’t understand is how 100 percent humidity isn’t like walking through a wall of water.

In summer, my greatest pain is clothing. There are only so many clothes that you can take off to cool down before what you start doing is illegal. I’ve found the record to be 12 seconds of cooling goodness before the police are called.

A knee-jerk reaction to dealing with the summer season in Japan would be to leave the country but I believe that that’s an expensive way to acclimatize.

Japan does make special summer suits, which are lighter and thinner. You can also buy special “air-flow” shirts that have several holes in to help keep you cool. Being cheap, I’ve taken to investing in several shirts, a positive attitude and a cheese grater.

Minty winter relief?

Often during winter, I’ve been forced to try and trick myself in the mornings into thinking that it’s not actually as cold as I think it is. Instead, I’ll pretend that I’m just being blown by a lovely, minty cool air. A lovely, minty cool air that makes my life flash before my eyes and hurts every joint in my body. Lovely. Minty.

I’ll often have to leave the house, covered in an assortment of gloves and coats, making me look like an out-of-work Sherlock Holmes.

What makes this even worse is that the heaters on the trains seemed to be switched on at an arbitrary time that a top-level manager decreed after a lot of faxing between departments, rather than when the actual temperature requires it. As soon as late November rolls around, the heaters are set to full blast even when it’s still quite balmy outside. The trains also don’t take into account the fact that the temperature inside is always quite well regulated by the multiple salary men and myself pressing up against each other.

Some parting words

Listen, Japan. You just need to make up your mind and sort yourself out. Be like the U.K. and just choose one type of weather for the whole year — like rain. Really, it’s that simple.

Signed,

A pained British man.

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British teacher, Japan explorer and writer. I will exchange witty jokes for Marmite.
  • Ariane Yoshihiro-Storm says:

    Nice article, I love your writing style! ^^
    Most people say that the only time Japan is comfortable is in spring and autumn, though I do agree that the temperatures on the train are never comfy. I always frantically look for the weak-aircon-carriage in the summer, lest I freeze to death, or even worse, catch a summer cold. The rainy season was a first for me too, nothing can prepare you for those downpours, not even a Glasgow winter. It was once so bad that my wellies were filling up with water from the rain and the splash from below, had to wade through puddles that were more than ankle-deep. I didn’t know I had moved to the Amazon. Then come winter, all the rooms in the house except the living/bedroom turn baltic. The olive oil in the kitchen congealed, and while showering, I felt like those monks who throw cold water on their naked bodies while sitting in the snow. Sorry Japan, I am not a Buddhist.
    Having said that, one of the things I love most about Japan is actually the picture-book like seasons. They may be extreme, but they are exactly what you would imagine any stereotypical season to be like. The spring flowers, the summer heat (plus cicadas), the autumn foliage and the winter snow. Just beautiful.

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