LOVING THE FOUR SEASONS: SUMMER
After the rainy season- no one talks about the rainy season in Japan, because it is literally a downpour of heavy rainfall for 2 months straight. The atmosphere is gloomy, dark and nothing fun to do except run (unlike Indians who run out to play in the rain which lasts a good 5 minutes, but we still like rains). I didn’t understand the negative atmosphere behind the rainy season, until I experienced an end-of-summer shower for 3 days and imagined that for 2 months. Now I understand why the Japanese don’t go, Hey! Look! it’s going to rain! Let’s drink hot tea and eat some snacks - comes SUMMER!
Japan surrounded by oceans has hot, humid, sweaty summers, which honestly is not a fun thing, but people adapt and so they make it fun. There are particular pleasures out of summer, like bathing at pools and beaches, taking a hike into the mountains and festivals and fireworks! Distinguishable spring to summer transformation happens as follows,
CICADAS: you can hear cicadas cry every day for the next 3 months, that’s the first sign of summer. With cicadas a lot of summer insects can be see. They tend to become annoying to hear if paid too much attention to, so mind it as white noise in your daily life during summers in Japan.
It is also the time for LOTS of mosquitos, so be prepared with repellants.
This is also the time when all the little boys go out to go catch bugs and insects, If you like bugs, join them and catch some beetles.
FOOD: As summer requires plenty of rehydration and light on the stomach kind of food, Japan's cuisine takes a turn from the type of noodles preferred to icecream flavors. though the usuals exist, some main things that change are:
HIYASHI SOMEN: Cold-ice soaked noodles served with cold broth, which cools your entire system and you may forget the dreaded heat for a few minutes. It is easy on the stomach, light and cool.
NAGASHI SOMEN: a must try eating activity during summer is nagashi somen. I’ve been taought no to play with food but I love it nonetheless. The activity is, noodles being slid down from the top side in flowing water of a bamboo slide and hungry eaters waiting to pick out the flowing noodles, dip it in broth and eat it. It may sound boring if it’s only 2 people, but may get intense when there’s 10 people fighting for their share of the noodles passing down as someone snatches it before it reaches you!
EEL: Unagi is a summer favorite fish, a must try delicacy.
Sweets KAKIGORI: (shaved ice): from pretty flower shaped sweets, summer brings a more refreshing “Uji kintoki” and matcha, azuki flavoured ice creams.
Watermelons: Japan doesn’t get a variety of fruits like tropical regions, but musk melon and watermelon are japan’s favorites during the summer.
Beach and hiking: Summer is the time to enjoy beaches and everybody goes to the nearest beach and spends time having a picnic and swim in the seas. For people who do not like the sand and salt, mountain hiking is the go-to, enjoy the sounds of the mountain springs to calm the heat and lush green forests with cicadas.
Summer festival + fireworks: Wear a Yukata (summer wear) and head off to a nearby festival happening in the locality you stay in. Every area has it's own fireworks display which lasts about an hour. Watch those fireworks closely because you mighr miss the watermelon shaped firework, which should not be missed. If you watch anime, you might have half experienced the idea of it, it is exactly the same with the protagonist being yourself!
TANABATA: One of the main festivals during summer. Associated with tying wishes on bamboo. What the meaning behind the festivity will be in another article.
Architecture: Japanese traditonal houses are built with a revamp startegy for the seasons, once summer starts, the house can be modified into a breeze inlet by removing all the doors and replacing it with paper screened doors, which turns the turns into a natural air-conditioner. Hang a wind chime around and feel the cool breeze and the sound of the chime cool you down.
If you get past the sweat and itch of Japan's summers and find something to do to get your mind away from the heat, you may pass it with less difficulty. Though Japan is now air-conditioned everywhere, it is easier to bear the heat. Lastly do look at the bright blue summer sky and clouds, that was one of my favorite part of summer.
The next season is my favorite, AUTUMN!!!!