Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Rainy season

River of mist over the Tadami river

July is rainy season in Aizu, and my, how it rains. The heat and humidity take their toll, and the first words out of everyone's mouth are "It's hot!" At the sides of roads in discrete places at midday the road workers and construction crews who have been hard at it since early morning are flaked out in their cabs, only their socked feet crossed over the steering wheel visible. Others kip on the verge, the remains of their lunch boxes by their side. Siesta's are supposedly foreign to the work obsessed Japanese, and it must be difficult to get away with it in an office, but round here they are all the rage, and long may that continue say I.

It is in the twenties and thirties every day, with at least 80% humidity, and sleep beckons at every moment, especially when, like us, you don't have air conditioning. You know it is humid when a drop of water on the kitchen table that was there when you went out in the morning is still there when you return late in the evening. Your body takes on a fungal quality, and paper feels slightly mushy. Cold showers and ice cream appeal, hot tea does not, and a wet towel round the head hits the spot. The Japanese appear to be made of tissue paper, as they won't go out in the rain unless they have to for work - even otherwise tough runners and cyclists. Landslides are a reason commonly given, though the chances of being actually hit must be tiny, and apply equally to driving, which is not an issue apparently.

A rain storm about to hit a mountain top taxi and bus stand and it's soon to be electric chairs

On very humid days you long for the rain to come and break the looming tension in the air. Sometimes it comes with electrical storms cracking down on the grumbling mountains. We were once caught on the motorway in a storm of truly epic proportions, the like of which I have never seen. The wipers couldn't cope, the blinding flashes came every few seconds, and a service station was the only option. We were soaked to the skin in the three seconds it took to run to the café. As I write, it has rained without a break all day, and the dips between the rows of beans and corn in the garden are full, the water spattering down from the roof, cars and timber trucks thrashing past on the valley road outside the window.


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