KJ200707: Cool Off This Summer (2/2)
A Cool Summer
Kagawa Prefecture is one of the sunniest prefectures in Japan, and receives very little rain. This, combined with the warming effects of the Seto Inland Sea, means that we get to experience a summer appropriate to the tropics! How about trying out these tricks for cooling down this summer?
Changing one’s clothing in pace with the season is called koromo-gae in Japanese. School uniforms change out of their winter dress and into their lighter summer clothes in or around June ; likewise, the “cool biz” movement put into practice recently encourages businessmen to take off their neckties and jackets, and the office air conditioning is set slightly higher than it used to be in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Yukata, a light, cotton robe worn in summer and when one gets out of the bath, are another popular option ; worn along with the sandal-like geta, they’re a good way to combat the heat. Just don’t wear an outfit like this to the office!
When it’s hot and your appetite is depressed, foods like the cold noodle dish soumen or chilled zaru-soba or zaru-udon noodles feel great going down. Chilled barley tea, sweet juicy watermelon, and other cool, wet treats, like shaved ice or gelidium jelly(tokoroten), are also
The evening calm, when the wind off the Seto is changing direction, is terribly hot and humid…and a perfect opportunity to unwind with your coworkers at a beer garden!
Many people hang sudare, reed or bamboo blinds, outside their windows to keep out even more of the sun. In addition to blocking the view in from outside, the blinds don’t prevent wind from passing through them. Fuurin adorn windows as well ; the delicate ringing of these simple wind chimes is a cool, crisp sound. Many homes lay down floor coverings and mats made of bamboo or wisteria in their tatami or wood-floored rooms to keep them cool.
Another tactic, sprinkling water in the garden to cool the air, is known as “uchi-mizu”. Mosquito-repelling incense, katori senkou, is a summer essential.
For years people have used another unique method of combating the hot Japanese summers : sending shivers down their spines with scary stories, or kaidan, especially those by Lafcadio Hearn, a.k.a. Yakumo Koizumi. An Irishman who became a Japanese national in the Meiji period, Hearn helped introduce Japanese culture to the world, particularly through his stories and other writing.
Check out his book Kwaidan(available in the I-pal library!)and see if it doesn’t work for you. Shigeru Mizuki is a well-known manga author whose series is also recommended for this purpose.