Keeping Cool

Mark Guthrie: This July may have been hot as gonads but August is only going to get worse!

Ah, the Nagoya weather. Lovely isn’t it? The winter was nice, barely a drop below zero with just the occasional smattering of snow to remind us of the festive season, snow fights, poorly constructed snowmen and avoiding the yellow bits. Then came the spring and its sakura delights, with the Hanami parties, gatherings in the park and even the local sewage plants had a wonderful pink glow as the sunlight danced amongst the falling blossoms, themselves transformed by the churning water and the billowing pillows of petals.

Then as June poked its nose into the year, the usual the downpour and deluge of tsuyu seemed to simply smile, kick up its feet and take an unseasonable vacation. And then July.

Oh yes, July. Hot as gonads. And August is only going to get worse. Now, as you may or may not know, Nagoya is famed for its humidity. In fact, were Nagoya to enter a Japan’s Got Talent competition with mugginess as its party trick of choice, it would have even notoriously po-faced Simon Cowell pull his high-trousered arse from his seat, crack a grin of joy on his smug, self-satisfied face, and bang his money-grabbing hands together in grim appreciation.

But what to do? How can you survive this oppressive, stifling summer? Well, you can read on is how.

Sheets Beat The Heat

The first place that you will notice the heat is in bed. Every morning you will wake, a viscous patch of shameful moistness creeping across your sour futon, and your sheets sticking to you like a particularly affectionate Portuguese Man ‘o War. Your first instinct will be to, after checking for nosey neighbors anticipating your sweaty embarrassment, hang your bedding out on the line to dry. Don’t! Resisting this temptation is your first step to surviving the hot, harsh summer. Instead, each morning, as you awake, both dank and moist, place your sheets in the freezer. Then, that evening replace your sheets on your bed and snuggle into that refreshing sweat. Don’t forget to sterilize your freezer regularly.

Dig out that Kotatsu:

The kotatsu is of course the traditional way to shield oneself from the Japanese inability to insulate their buildings in winter. Forget what you have been told about placing blankets over sources of heat, the kotatsu has its very design based on flaunting such basic fire safety regulations. But how will your kotatsu keep you cool in summer, you ask? Well, rather than plugging the warm table in to the mains, invest in a small refrigerator (one of those little beer fridges will do or, failing that, try ‘liberating’ the mini-bar rather than the towels the next time you visit a hotel), wheel it under your kotatsu, leave the door open and hey-presto! your bottom half will be nice and cool. Right up until the moment the fridge’s motor burns out. It may be a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case of such an eventuality.

Keep Your Spirits High

Brandy, sherry or whiskey, whatever your tipple may be. Everyone knows that sipping from a hip flask in winter, particularly if attached to a St. Bernard (the flask that is, not you) after an avalanche will keep you warm. Everyone, that is, except doctors, scientists and now you. In fact, the alcohol in your bloodstream causes vasodilation (or the opening of the veins to you and I), thus bringing your veins closer to the skin’s surface. That warming rush you feel with that supposedly life saving sip, is actually the heat escaping your blood, leaving you susceptible to hypothermia. With this flawless and scientifically proven logic in mind surely it is best to, in this heat, stay sozzeled and allow the veins to flow freely. It may be best to mix your booze with Pocari Sweat to stave off any alcohol-induced dehydration.

Get it off your chest. The heat that is:

Never let it be said that Japan isn’t a land of wonders. This summer season, the must have item of clothing is… wait for it… Cool Gel Brassieres. Yeah, you read that right.  Cool Gel Brassieres. Now, obviously this item is predominantly aimed towards ladies, although the more portly gent may be able to take advantage of its chilly goodness, but this garment equipped with refrigerated pads offers support, padding and to go with it a refreshing all-day coolness. Now for you men, some of you, you lucky few, may be able to use this miracle of modern design to keep your hands cool, but don’t forget to ask permission first. And no random testing on the subway, do you hear?

Get Minty About It

One great way of keeping cool in Japan is menthol shower gel. This wonderful stuff can be lathered all over and, as well as keeping you clean, keeps the skin tingling in a reinvigorating sharpness from the moment you step from the shower. But why stop there? Why should your insides boil while your skin basks in the minty glory? You could start with chewing gum, or sucking extra strong mints. How about menthol cigarettes? Get that chill deep into your lungs. Christ, you could even drink crème de menthe! That should do the job. You’ll be shivering like a Frenchman on conscription day in no time.

And there you have it, five simple and effective ways to beat the heat in Nagoya’s warmest months. In fact, keeping cool in Japan has never been easier. Should all of the above fail, you could always resort to more conventional measures such as air conditioning, fans and bamboo blinds like the so-called ‘experts’ would recommend. But what do they know, eh?

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