Monday, February 20, 2006

The Weather in Japan...

...is cold. But a tolerable sort of cold that can be combated with two jackets; a good, thick pair of jeans; gloves; and a scarf--don't even think about wearing slippers. The weather isn't too bad. It has yet to rain very much and (sadly) yet to snow. Occausionally a strong wind comes in the afternoon, blowing your scarf around and making your face numb. The cold itself isn't so bad, but there's a sneaky element attached to it. Underneath the cold, there lurks a dryness that hits the back of your throat and makes you cough. Drink lots of water and herbal tea (but not ocha, which is Japanese green tea, because that's caffinated and retains water) and suck on hard candies and you should be fine. But the most insinuating thing about the cold is that, just when you think you're safe, it gets you, deep inside; by which I mean, it's freakin' freezing inside Japanese buildings. True, when the heater and/or stove is on, it isn't bad, but that isn't always a guarentee. When these are not turned on, the buildings tend to get cold quickly. I blame poor insulation: the walls are thin and the floors aren't carpeted and central heating is nonexistant. I've woken up in my room to find myself looking at my own breath: wisps of frost--weak, but alarming nonetheless.

--written January 24, 2006

I meant to publish this after writing about the Ryoukan, but I, sadly, let too many days go by, and now this information is obseleted. So here's an update.

Spring was heraled in on Friday, February 3, 2006. Traditionally, this is the time when mame beans are hurled about while children cry, "Oni wa soto. Fuku wa uchi," which means, "Demons outside. Happiness inside." My family didn't celebrate it, which might explain why, the very next day, the temperature dropped dramatically. By Sunday it had snowed, and I took pictures of the backyard and nearby shrine lightly sprinkled with a thin coat of whiite.

February is said to be one of the colder months, but I think, personally, it's been rather irregular. It's snowed, it's rained, it's been warm, it's been cold. Yesterday it was raining rather hard. Today it's been dry, but a thick fog draped itself around the city. Both days I could see my breath.

In the meantime, I've been getting used to the weather. In my room, it's still a bit cold, especially late at night and early in the morning. But I've been getting used to my classrooms and adapting to the cold of the house. The dry temperature doesn't bother me at all anymore, but my friends and I still wonder how Japanese people stay hydrated. My host parents drink beer and ocha or kocha (black tea) in the evening, and though I'm never up early enough to see them eat breakfast, I'm served coffee every night. Green tea, like water, is free in the cafeteria (I drink water). So you could easily go the whole day, everyday, without drinking anything hydrating.

Actually, I have to be careful too. I've taken to drinking coffee in the morning (my host mother makes it for me) and kocha in the evenings. In between I have one cup of water at lunch and two or three small glasses of juice or milk at dinner. It's not the three giant glasses I have at Redlands each day, nor is it the recommended daily amount.

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