It’s 梅雨 (tsuyu) here in Japan, the rainy season which usually lasts for about a month from sometime in June to July. This year it started up later than usual, so it will likely last until late July. I’m just assuming so; I’m not Al Gore. Japanese summers are terrible because it’s either raining or super balls hot. And yes sometimes it will also be both. It’s also humid most of the summer, meaning that walking outside for 15 minutes will make you want to go home and take a shower. This also makes riding the trains pleasant, as the usual crowd of evening-migrating salarymen have an entire day of sweat and B.O. in addition to their usual cigarette butt and stale beer aroma. I’m quite thankful that I don’t have to ride the train to work, and when I do ride the trains it’s not usually at rush hour so I don’t have to endure the torture that is being crammed into a train full of sweaty stinky old men. One of my co-workers said that foreigners are more sensitive to body odors and stinky people, which I believe because Japanese people have probably had their sense of smell rendered useless from years of sweaty summertime salarymen.
Summer in Japan brings with it a whole special batch of complaints that are only applicable in these moist and hot months. The sad thing that this is roughly my… maybe, what, 5th or 6th summer that I’ve experienced in Japan, so you’d think I would be over it by now. Ha. Most annoying is the lack of central air conditioning, or sometimes lack of any air conditioning at all. This can be a pain during other times of the year, especially winter without central heat, but in the summer it’s most painful. Generally, Japan relies on room-specific AC units with no real air ventilation or filtration system. It’s pretty much like the window units that they have in motels or in college dorm rooms for kids who have allergies (or at least a note from the doctor faking that they have allergies). At night, you don’t want to leave the AC on all night because you’ll catch a cold from it being too cold and running all night, and also because electricity bills can get pricey if you run the AC all day. Luckily, ACs here have remotes and sleep timers, so you can set the AC to shut off an hour or two after you fall asleep. Unfortunately, this means that about 30 or 40 minutes after the AC auto-shuts off, you wake up sweaty and thirsty. Thus you turn the AC on with another hour or so on the timer. Next thing you know you’ve woken up 4 times in the night and finally wake up with your pillow feeling like it had just taken a swim in Tokyo Bay.
I’m glad that I don’t have to walk very far to get to work. As soon as I get to AEON, my routine is to turn on my classroom’s AC unit so that I don’t pass out in class. Like many puzzling aspects of this ghetto-fabulous technologically advanced country, central air conditioning in Japan is a dream that will likely not be realized in my lifetime.