Monday, August 18, 2008

Japanaventures 1: Never Go to Japan in August

Now, I might be somewhat of a freak in that I like the heat. I miss it. My biggest complaint about San Francisco is that it rarely ever gets hot here. I miss being able to wear shorts and go outside without a jacket. The fact that I have to run my space heater in the middle of August is just plain wrong.

And yet, even I was wilted by the 90+ degree, 100% humidity weather that is Japan in August. You step outside and instantly you’re covered in so much sweat you could win a wet t-shirt contest. People in Japan carry around little wash-cloth like sweat rags with them everywhere they go, but they can only do so much. Ever wonder why the Japanese are known historically for their decorative fans? Because you NEED to carry a fan with you everywhere to keep from passing out from the heat.

At one point on the flight over, the pilot announced that the current temperature in Tokyo was only 82 degrees. Diana said, "that's not bad." And then I reminded her that it was 7 am in Japan.

On the upside, you don’t need to eat as much since it doesn’t take as many calories to maintain your body temperature. That’s a bonus for a budget traveler. The downside is you can’t cram a day full of a million tourist destinations across wide swathes of the city. You only have a few good hours in you, so you better make them count. The rest of the time you’re going to be sitting in your underwear drinking water trying to find something worth watching on Japanese TV. Thank god for the high school baseball tournament (on seemingly 24 hours a day) and then the Olympics.

So if you’re planning a trip to Japan, unless you enjoy being severely dehydrated and feeling like your body is being gently steamed for proper eating, do not go in August. I learned a very important lesson on the trip: while I miss the summer heat from the days of my youth, I do not miss the humidity.

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