Every summer, Pepsi comes out with a new flavor in Japan. This summer it was, as you can see here, salty watermelon flavor. It’s a limited engagement type of thing – it only lasts from late June through August, and then it is gone from the shelves. A follower of mine on Twitter, @TheTokyoFiles, (See his blog at The Tokyo Files) tells me that it tasted like mild pickle juice. I am not sure that’s such a ringing endorsement, but it is descriptive. Most often these summer sodas have less carbonation than other sodas in order to enhance the flavor. I’m sure it was an interesting, if not fully enjoyable, experience. I can’t wait til next year to see what the Pepsi company will come out with next!
I took a break from blogging for the summer, as you may have noticed, but here I am renewed and refreshed from some time away from Tokyo. I spent about ten weeks in various parts of the East Coast of the United States with friends and family. Here are a few photos that tell of our adventures. Back to my Tokyo Tuesdays next week! Meanwhile, look for my regular postings on writing and parenting on Thursday. See you soon!
I have come to realize that in Japan, there is more to temperature than environment. In the U.S. we tend to flock to pools or air conditioned zones to get away from the oppressive summer temperatures in some areas, such as my current summertime location in Washington D.C. But in Japan, it can be quite different. In a big city such as Tokyo, the heat can be crippling when combined with the extreme humidity. However, the worst problem is that people are out in it. There’s no such thing as going from the air conditioned house to the air conditioned car to the air conditioned office. Public transport is the most common way to work, and people have to get there somehow – most often by walking – and then walking from train to work. In addition, this particular summer, with the electricity crisis happening all over Japan and the government looking to reduce usage, the trains are even warmer than in past summers. The most common sight in Japan is the little towel. People all over pull it out of pockets and mop up sweat on their faces and brow. It’s one way to grin and bear it. The perfect gift for a summer resident of Japan is this towel. My husband sometimes carries two of them.
There are such things as cooling foods, almost guaranteed to lower the internal body temperature. One such food is the ever-popular shaved ice. It’s a staple of the Japanese Matsuri (festival) and can be found in shops throughout the cities in the hot months. The Japanese people do not like things as sweet as Americans do, so there’s most often more ice than syrup in the Japanese version, which is even cooler. Smoothies, ice cream, gazpacho soup – they’re all foods that cool internally. When I am in Japan in the summer, I have observed skyrocketing sales of ice cream. The Japanese believe that it cools one’s temperature significantly and don’t mind the indulgence. Of course their portions are significantly lower than an American’s idea of an ice cream cone. The Japanese people drink less plain water than Americans, also. They believe in the cooling power of tea – green, black or barley. I don’t think jasmine tea is as popular for a cooling function, but it is available.
Beyond food, sometimes “cool” really is a state of mind. The Japanese government, for the first time, is approving Hawaiian shirts as proper office attire in this summer of SUPER cool biz. To me, this is a recognition of the power of mind over matter. When wearing one of these lightweight, cotton shirts, one can’t help but think of palm trees, cool breezes, and delightful beaches. The Japanese are a stoic people who have a strong sense of national pride and want to do the best they can to help their country. Most of the expats who reside there feel the same. And if helping the country involves wearing a printed, cotton shirt to work, then let’s all go purchase a few.
These are a few ideas to beat the summertime heat in Japan. When all else fails, please do head for the beach or the pool or even the aircon. In the meantime, mop your face, drink heartily and think cooling thoughts. Good luck!
This Post is part of Loco in Yokohama’s Blog Matsuri
It’s summer! Kids are off from school; the weather is warm enough to swim every day; and heck, even the Japanese companies are participating in “cool biz” – dressing down for work. But how is a writer to keep on writing with all of these distractions? And even if they’re not so distracting, time is somehow further crunched with obligations to family and friends when visiting one’s home country. Between jet lag, a lousy cold, and kids with me 24/7, I haven’t written a word in days. I have deadlines to meet – both outward and self-imposed.
It seems that such is the life of a writer. The ebb and flow of life affects the ebb and flow of writing. It stands to reason that I write more when I have more time in which to write. Luckily by next week both kids will be in camp all day and nothing will impede my progress. I will be distracted enough to write about my Washington DC experiences this summer here on my blog but that will be the fun part. I really miss Tokyo when I ‘m away, but I also do love DC. As I mentioned, life affects art. Onward ho!
My question of the day is: is a writer really ever on vacation? More than a job or even a career, writing is deeply ingrained in the heart and mind of those who take on the task. Of course, this is my opinion. Perhaps lawyers feel as passionate about the law as I, and other writers I know, feel about the written word. I don’t just write for a living; I am a writer. I write more because I have to not because I want to. Whenever I see something, I think about how I would describe it in words. Perhaps the old saying is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I can easily evoke an image in a thousand words that I think would rival a picture.
But I digress. It is summer, and I am on holiday with my children. We are in the United States for ten entire weeks. The kids will go to camp on and off and we’ll be staying with various grandparents so they’re taken care of, but I still have to arrange time every day to write. It’s not like when we’re at home and it’s automatically part of my regular routine.
This is going to be a summer of wonderful things – and I will make the time for writing because that is who I am. I need to remember that and actually make the time because a writer is never truly on vacation. A writer takes a change of scenery now and then. My scenery will be changing every two weeks and I will make the most of it instead of worrying about it.
Happy Summer everyone!!