Saturday, June 23, 2007


The rainy season is underway in Japan right now and I've been feeling rather "blah" recently (perhaps) because of it or because of too much work this month and last. It's not that I mind rain. In fact, I think rain is rather a glorious thing when it's pouring down good and hard and thunder is rolling magnificently in the background. The problem is that the rainy season in Japan is relentlessly gray, muggy, and the rain seems to fall out of the sky listlessly with no symphonic sounds to accompany it. When compared to a really ripping thunder storm, the rainy season tends to have all the glamor of an old pair of sweat socks.

There are also certain logistical issues which arise as a result of the ongoing drizzle and humidity. The main problem is that you spend several weeks having serious problems with your laundry. Most people don't have clothes dryers in their apartments and those that do have smallish ones which are very anemic. They have a low capacity and aren't powerful enough to dry completely wet clothing.

In fact, when we had a dryer (it's since gone to dryer heaven), the instruction manual for it said we should hang the clothes up to dry first and then put them in the dryer only after they were already largely dry. In the U.S., the main point of a dryer was that it was a labor-saving device. In Japan, having a dryer increased the amount of work and was mainly about improving the quality of the laundry, particularly making it softer or smell better.

If you have to do laundry during the rainy season, you can appreciate the idea of making your laundry smell better. When you hang clothes inside your apartment to dry, they tend to smell somewhat like a washcloth that's been used a few times and left to dry to a crispy state over a spigot in the bathroom. One feature of air conditioners in Japan which is factored into purchase decisions is their ability to help dry clothes hung inside for drying and reduce the possibility of this unpleasant odor. In fact, one of my students does laundry every day and runs her A/C for two hours a day every day throughout the year just for the sake of the laundry.

This year, the rainy season is supposed to be more anemic than in past years. In fact, there is concern that there may be a water shortage as a result of it. I'd like to say that, on the bright side, it'll be easier to do laundry but it isn't quite working out like that. So far, it seems like it still rains or threatens to rain with the same frequency but there's just less of it when it finally comes down.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

I think you forget that thunderstorms bring with them the allied problems of power fluctuations, internet interruptions, and satellite TV reception problems. And if the rain is too hard, it just runs over top of the ground instead of being absorbed. At least, here at home it does. A nice soft rain, on the other hand, waters the garden and leaves everything else alone.