Revenge of the Tsuyu

Aug 17,2012

If you use a bicycle for transportation, you have two options when it rains. If you have a fairly cool body temperature, which most Japanese seem to have, you can stay dry with a parka (called a kappa in Japanese, but I'm told has no relation to the mythological water creature), but if you're a hot-blooded European like me, you have basically two options: wear the parka, which quickly overheats on the inside from the exertion of cycling, so that I end up soaked with sweat; or get equally soaked in the rain and just not smell as bad. I opt for the latter. People think I'm strange for doing so. They do not understand.

So you pedal as hard as you can and still get soaked to the bone. The skies were clear when you set out. By that time you only have five minutes left to still be early, so you forgo the paper towel treatment in the john and try to find as discreet a corner as you can to wring your shirt out, looking for the one and only place where no one can see you without your shirt on. (Male torso bearing is considered barbaric in Japan.) And within seconds, a stranger who has just a good a reason for being there as you do, and probably a better one, is right there loudly greeting you and chuckling the very obvious comment that you look like a drowned rat.

Well, at least it's not winter when this happens. Snow can be brushed off.

This was the first time in, I'm told, more than twentysomething days since we've had rain, which is dry for the San'in region but not bad for lots of other places I've been hearing from. I was just told that Los Angleles hasn't had any rain in three months, with accompanying dried up dead hills and shrubbery conducive to plenty of forest fires. My father in Indiana also told me they've been having such a drought that you can actually get fined for watering your lawn. (Incidentally, NASA has this cool interactive global rainfall map current from January 1998 to April
which still seems pretty late for an organisation capable of putting a spacecraft on the moon.)

All this is bound to drive up food prices, although those seem to be controlled quite a bit more in the US than they are here. As I recall they stayed pretty much the same throughout the year. Here they change from week to week and sometimes day to day. Over the past few weeks I've noticed a number of the vegetables I've sought have disappeared from the supermarket shelves. Domestically-grown broccoli and garlic have become rarities. This has probably got something to do with the weather (how could it not?) and could conceivably get much worse. One can easily predict dystopian scenarios where desperately hungry citizens queue up at the doors of the supermarkets first thing in the morning and fight to buy up the few prohibitively expensive produce items that come in. (Meanwhile, it's just about impossible to imagine our high-tech society without Ice Cucumber Pepsi and tomato-flavoured chocolate. That junk will always be with us.)

Fortunately, science does provide a solution:

Comment by AK 2012/08/17 13:27:24
Interesting to hear people get fined for watering their lawn in Indiana. I wonder how much it is.
PS:I thought there is another blog here today!

Coordinator's Response 2012/08/17 15:46:55
There should have been. I just couldn't seem to get my thoughts together in time, and then when I finally did, a computer glitch ate the blog entry I made. Always save your work! But it's there now.

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