Monday, 19 July 2010

Summer has set in

Well, the rainy season is finally over. But there have been thunderstorms practically every day because of the heat and humidity. We live on a hill so we get a bit of a breeze and it's a bit cooler than surrounding areas, but it still goes over 30, and has gotten up to 38C, though not this year so far - touch wood. If it weren't for the thunderstorms everything would be brown unless you watered the garden.

The first summer we lived in this house (or rather, I lived, as Y was still living in the previous city), you could see the thunderstorms coming in from the mountains to the south. The tops of the mountains would be covered with dark cloud and the lightning would flash left, right, left, centre, right. The sheet of cloud would move towards the house, rather like the huge UFO in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, taking up the whole sky. There'd be thunder and lightning and torrential rain - for about 30 minutes and then the whole thing would pass off north - until the next day. If the rain lasted longer than 20 minutes or so it would cool the place down, especially if the storm was late afternoon. However, the last couple of years most of the storms have been only in the mountains, with the occasional one dropping in. The lightning is amazing, but the rain isn't enough to cool anything down.

The image of summer in Japan, for people raised here anyway, includes things like 風鈴 (fuu-rin, or wind bells); トンボ(tom-bo, dragonflies); 祭り(matsu-ri, festivals) and 花火 (hana-bi, fireworks). Less romantic images are beer gardens, sweating away in a really hot kitchen and thereby losing your appetite altogether to eat whatever you sweated to make, typhoons, food poisoning and just getting really run-down because of the heat and the inclination to eat only cold foods that are quick to prepare and nice at the time, and I'm not talking only about icecream! Wow! Three of those mention food! No, I'm not obsessive about food, but I do get really tired in the summer and rarely want to stand in the kitchen without the a/c on and a floor fan standing in the entrance. Even then it's difficult!

In the summer months here, the dragonflies are so common that sometimes it seems you have to beat your way through in order to walk in the garden. The most common ones I've seen are red, but there are other colours and I found this guy/gal attached to a stick near the front door. Gorgeous colour.

Dragonfly images show up in summer interior goods - towels, curtains, dishes, hand-held fans, and many many more items, including the summer greeting postcards that some people send.

Summer is also a 'gift-giving' season with 中元 (chuu-gen, mid-year gifts) being sent to friends, acquaintances and people who you "are in debt to" for something or other. This tradition isn't as common as it used to be, but I get presents from some people, and in the past have been given such presents as olive oil sets (6 or so bottles of different grades of oil); packs of noodles (good summer food!); washing detergent sets (detergent and conditioner - 3 or 4 packs of each); cheese baskets (very nice present ;-) ). Winter has another gift-giving occasion with year-end gifts being called お歳暮 (o-sei-bo). I have one student who gives me both mid-year AND year-end gifts!


  1. Not exactly weather for the Irish is it!!

    I love your photos. We don't get many thunderstorms here. I think I lived here 6 years before I even experienced one. Lightening hit the pylon next to our house 3 years ago and since then I've found myself scared witless when I hear the thunder : (

    Dragonfly is the symbol of our town but funnily I don't see many around. There are lots on manhole covers and painted on building though!! We have a marsh that has endangered species in it so the area is protected. There is even a zarigani (yabbie) festival to catch as many as we can to protect the dragonflies.

  2. Definitely not weather for the Irish!;-) Not this Irish woman, anyway. The heat and humidity make me so tired, and I have given up trying to not use the a/c. Also, partly because of meds, my skin revolts in the heat, so I can justify the a/c as being good for my health! Luckily, my dh agrees with me ;-)
    A couple of years ago, lightning hit one of the neighbourhood houses. No one was hurt, but the sound, and the way the ground shook was scary. It knocked out the electricity, too. Glad it hit the pylon and not your house!