Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Summer in Japan

The final season in my review of the seasons of Japan! This what I have to say:

Summer in Japan is not fun. The End. 

..Ok ok, so maybe I’ll get into more detail..

Summer is from mid-June to mid-September and while I can only speak from personal experience about the Kansai Region, friends in other parts of Japan agree that summer is unbearably hot at times. I've also had conversations about how the sun just feels hotter in Japan (and wondering if this is our imagination), but whether it is or not is compounded by Japan’s energy conservation practices. Incidentally, it's also the easiest way to prove that they are a masochistic people (just kidding…sort of). The most common practice is although air conditioning is available in many places (even if in the form of wall units), they refrain from using it to conserve energy and keep energy costs low. If they do use it, it's to maintain the temperature at a "cool" 25 - 28 degrees Celsius (about 77 - 82 degrees Fahrenheit). Consider that, and now consider that I arrived in Japan during an energy crisis, 5 months after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Now if at this point you’re remembering that I’m from Miami, that warm beach paradise in South Florida, I’ll just stop you and say that this is NOT like living in Miami. Where I live in Japan is a constant sauna whereas Miami is like a warm hug when you’re walking from one frozen tundra of an establishment to another. Yes, in Miami, if you’re indoors for a period of time, you’re most likely going to get cold because like in most Developed Nations, A/C is not a burden but a gift to be used in excess.
-sob, sob- Oh, how I miss it.

I could on and on and on about why this aspect of Japanese culture baffles and frustrates me, but I’ll digress. The perks of summer in Japan include the return of kakigori (like snow cones but better), more seasonal flowers (fields of hydrangea and sunflowers this time), summer festivals (a good time to see Japanese people relaxing and having fun), and best of all, summer vacation for schools!

The longest of the school breaks, summer vacation is six weeks of no formal classes and although most JETs in Japan still have to report to school for “work” (staring out in space for 8 hours), some will have kind overlords who will let them leave mid-day or other special allowances. I say formal classes, because many students get stuck in their version of summer school and have to go everyday (sucks!) Others still go everyday for extracurricular club activities while others in my particular school have to come to attend to the livestock since mine is an agricultural school (double suck!) Because of this, some ALTs may be asked to help tutor students or various other things during the summer. Besides that, this is also the most acceptable time for JETs to travel! Something I encourage enthusiastically whether it is in Japan, the surrounding area, or even back to your home country.

Regardless of what your co-workers are doing or commenting as you take your time off, know this: Your time here is limited so part of your experience should be cultural exchange outside of the classroom. I take this to mean that you should learn more about the culture you’re living in or one nearby. But if you feel like you need to go home to recharge your batteries instead,  that’s fine too. You are not your school’s slave nor should you feel subject to any guilt just because you have a contract and take advantage of your nenkyuu days! That's what they are there for, not for possible emergencies! 


ah…ok… That last part was a bit of a rant but I’ll stop now, hehe.
So if it wasn’t obvious, I chose the last option and went home, because as I recalled from last year, August was the worst month of summer in terms of heat and humidity, so I did not a repeat of that. As a result I don’t have any new festival or sunflower pictures, but enjoy the rest! 

Did I mention I went paragliding?! It was such a rush to jump off a mountain and swing in the sky!!

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, lack of central air plus lack of insulation means beating the heat in Japan is a lot harder than in the States. Don't miss that.