Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Every week a lovely newsletter from Japan arrives. Here is the last one:

Hello from Japan- this is Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya's Newsletter No 348. (see )
This is Yuka, I am writing the newsletter today.

When Ichiro and I have landed at Bhuj from Mumbai in India during day time, the temperature was around 46 degrees Centigrade(approx 114.8 degrees Farenheit). We have never experienced this hot temperature, so it was so interesting. I could not imagine the heat before but actually, it was not bad at all. The air was so dry.  We take a bath everyday at home and the temperature of the hot water is around 40-42 degrees C, so we thought we could never bare the temperature before we arrived in India. It was not as bad as we expected.

Japanese summer is so famous with humidity. The hottest time, the temperature becomes around 36 degrees(Centigrade). It is approx 98 degrees Fahrenheit in most of Japan. The humidity is what really makes Japanese summer so impressive:-) Probably, the word `sticky` expresses well about Japanese summer. Imagine you are in a sauna- it may be easier.

Of course air conditioning is all over, so it is not too difficult to spend summer in Japan now but since air conditioners create as much hot air as cool air, they make outside air even hotter. Too much temperature difference sometimes makes us sick and it is hard to adjust. We see many office workers wearing cardigans and covering knees by blanket inside of their offices.

In the small villages in Kutch area in India, once we went into the house of the vales people, we did not feel the heat- the floor was cold and some houses had a fan on the ceiling. Even without the fans, the houses had a nice construction with air to go through. It was also interesting, we were often offered nice hot milk tea(chai)at their houses. Icy cold drinks
are so popular in summer in Japan but while we had nice chai in India, I remembered my grandfather(and Ichiro's father too) always had a hot tea during summer, saying we should have hot tea in hot summer.

We remember, at Mumbai, we saw many people were walking along Juhu beach of Arabian sea in the morning. The temperature of morning and night was quite cooler and nice!
In Japan we call the hot night with no air as `Nettaiya`(it literally means `Tropical night`).
People became not patient and use air conditioning at night also,so there is a vicious circle-
we open windows hoping to have a nice air but find unpleasant warm air.

When there was no air conditioner,  these are the things for summer, and now these things gave us so nostalgic feelings.

*kaya--mosquito net
*uchimizu--sprinkle water around the house

All houses smelled with Katori senko, pyrethrum coil, and everyone was opening the windows, so we could hear the laughters and the noise from neighborhood.(We could often hear the baseball live game from TV and the cheering voice also).

Hiyayayakko(cold tofu with seasonings)and soumen(cold noodles)were on the supper table very often. Mugicha(cold barley tea) was always around. Mothers were busy making mugicha for children and everyone in the family. Big yakan(kettle) full of mugi cha were always cooled off in cold water. Many people had sensu, folding fans in their bags, both men and women used folding fans very often. Women often had fans with good scent(Byakudan-sandalwood). Parasols and handkerchief were must items of women when going out.
For children(sometimes adults too), haramaki-belly band was the must item. They are still used widely to keep stomach from getting cold.

Furin(windbells) do not make temperature down but the sound gives us some feeling of coolness. We might have mentioned before, but summer kimono are said to take a part like furin. Wearing kimono in summer is like being a furin- you have a role to sprinkle a little cool air and summer spirit. If you wear summer kimono, we recommend to use folding fan and may be a parasol too. When you wear yukata, uchiwa(paper fan) is a good accessories too. You can drive off mosquitos with the fan, and you can tuck the fan into tie obi in the back when you do not need it.

The famous painting by  a Japanese painter, Seiki Kuroda shows a typical woman figure in summer(the title of this painting is Kohan-Lakeside).

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