Feeling the Japanese Winter


It`s really cold.
Last week I saw the first snow flakes falling since I’ve been here and although it wasn’t enough to settle on the ground, the temperature has dropped considerably enough for me to wear a woolly hat to bed. And my newly purchased electric blanket on full blast! Having experience it before in northern China, I’m in no doubt that winter in Kagawa is not a joke.

What is refreshing, is that during the day-times here, the sun still shines and the sky is a spirit-lifting blue. Quite a difference from the dull winter gloom of London, where the sun seems to be in semi-hibernation mode.

However in Japan, it is the winter evenings and nights that have been the most difficult to take. The sun sets at around 6pm, taking all the warmth and much of the cheerfulness away with it, leaving only the encroaching darkness and bitterly cold gale winds. Multiple layers of thermal clothing cannot stop riding home in the evenings being an extremely unpleasant experience. The Caribbean part of my genes really struggle!

Even the faces of the Japanese salary-men seem more miserable than usual as they hurry their way home (or perhaps to their favourite heated drinking spot). I passed one on the street yesterday and we exchanged a shivering, pained, wind-beaten, glance. A moment of shared bleakness, that transcended thousands of years of language and culture.

But perhaps the most perplexing thing about the coldness here, is the unique sub-species of people that have a condition which I call “super cold resistance”. 99.9% of the super cold resistant sub-genus are young females of 25 years and below. They are a strong, very special breed. While I and many of the good citizens of Kagawa are in full ice-fighting battle gear, they are standing at train stations, bus stops, in shopping malls, with only jackets and mini-skirts on. And some of them are still in school uniforms. These stocking-less, bare-skinned, frost-proof, naturalists must have blood made from concentrated anti-freeze.

If it wasn’t so cold I would take my hat off to them.

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