Weather Obsession

There is no doubt that discussing the weather is an important part of Japanese culture.  Every summer conversation starts with, “It’s hot today, isn’t it?”.  Even email conversations start with the weather and then move on.

But it is incredibly hard to ignore.  I was born in Northern Ireland. I’m used to the weather being mildly annoying.  The sort of weather than means you don’t really want to plan a picnic in summer because it could be a bit damp or a bit cold.  But you make the plan anyway because, as my grandmother would say, a drop of rain won’t kill you.

Then we have Japan where weather is not mildly annoying, in say the way that an insect can be, but is much more like the giant stomping monsters that the Japanese love dearly.  My lunch plans today were cancelled because it might rain.  The airlines are also cancelling flights for the same reason but then this isn’t Northern Irish style rain.  This is due to the arrival of  Typhoon Ma-on which is expected to cause flooding and damage to areas of the city at some point today.  This is weather so powerfully destructive that it gets to have its own name.

And it’s not just the storms that kill.  So far this summer 26 people have died because of the heat and 54,000 people have been treated in hospital.  I no longer just glance out the window to see what the weather is doing.  Now I plan in advance.  I read the extreme high temperature forecast and the weather warnings and advisories.  Today I get to hope that the worst thing said about the weather is, “It’s wet today, isn’t it?”.

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