Shichijuni-kou (72 Seasons) Calendar Listing
晩夏, Banka: "Late Summer"
Season No. 12: 大暑: Taisho
|Ogasaneiwa (大重岩), a moss-covered igneous tuff formation on Mt. Noro (Kure, Hiroshima).|
Tsuchi Uruoite Jokushosu
"Ground Moistens, Humidity Increases"
(July 28 -August 1)
I want to say we're having an "unusually cool summer" this year. But I'm starting to think that it's closer to the truth to say we've adapted to the "new normal." Three decades ago, most of Japan didn't get summer temperatures as hot as 35C. But today, even hotter temps are no longer mezurashii (珍しい rare) in Japan's many concrete jungles. No doubt there's a corellation between the amount of heat-retaining materials (concrete, asphalt, steel, etc) a city has and its heat index.
Late summer is a particularly dangerous time for city folk with weak constitutions. It quickly wears a body down to sweat twenty-four hours a day. I'm thankful that I don't live anywhere near a heat island this year, yet I feel for my many loved ones who do. Here in mountain country, the rain is certainly keeping temperatures cooler than they could be. But the season isn't without its woes; the 100% humidity and stifling heat create the perfect climate for biting dust mites and mosquitos that love to ambush us when the lights go out. I guess none of us can escape no matter what we do (sigh).
Still some lice
I've yet to pick."
Two typhoons are spinning in the Pacific as I type, and they've pulled their humidity all the way up here to wrap our town in mist, dumping on us six inches worth of torrential rain in a single day. Now the air is steamy and sultry. The Hubby and I have no choice but to stick to our nighttime walking plan. Lucky for us, there's plenty of beauty, fun and flavor to be had, both day and night.
Flower Of The Season: ひまわり, Himawari, Sunflower
|"Incoming" (Kure, Hiroshima) (c) Genkilee, Gen. All Rights Reserved.|
|"Sunflowers of Toyosato" (Inukami District, Shiga Prefecture). (c) 2012 Genkilee, Gen. All Rights Reserved.|
|"Ramune Nao" (Tomonoura Village, Fukyuama City, Hiroshima). (c) Genkilee, Gen. All Rights Reserved.|
He bought me a bottle for a few hundred yen but opening it was a puzzle! No twist-top? No metal cap? Are you supposed to break it open and sip drops of soda with a broken shard? How does this work? Help!!!
Guffawing at my lack of patience, he took the bottle from me and ripped off the plastic label, revealing the "key:" a blue plastic plug that fitted over the marble stopper. Ever more perplexed, as if watching a magic trick, I stared in amazement as he navigated my drink. He set the shiny Codd-necked bottle upright on a table, expertly placed the plastic plug over the hole and with tanned biceps flexing, violently punched the plug down hard. With a loud "POP!" and a "clink!" the sticky carbonated soda shot up like a fountain, spraying him and splattering wetly onto the table. "Dozo," he smiled friskily, handing the wet, half-empty bottle back to me. He seemed pleased; apparently the waterworks were part of the "cooling" effect of ramune. He contined to explain that the glass marble that rattled down into the bottle's little trap compartment was both a stopper and a psychological coolant. (And yes, when the drink is gone, the kids would to shatter the bottle and collect the marble inside).
Clear, refreshing ramune soda is surprisingly sweet (even for Japanese tastes!) and comes in a variety of flavors and colors, the most popular being the classic lemon-lime flavor pictured above. (If you live in the States, imagine the taste of Smartees candies as a fizzy drink). At first it seems a little mendokusai (めんどくさい, a hassle) to go through all that trouble for a swig of something cold. When you're parched, you don't want to fuss with a cap and lose half the liquid in a carbonated explosion, right? But ramune is from a time when people could extract gratification through slow processes, savoring life through more than just two senses. Getting this concept down, like learning how to open a bottle of ramune, takes practice -one that's worth the effort. Looking at it from this new perspective, ramune is not just a drink; it's a meditative initiation rite of summer in Japan.
Event Of The Season: 住吉祭り, Sumiyoshi Matsuri, Sumiyoshi Festival
|The Sumiyoshi Festival in Takehara, Hiroshima (c) 2013 Genkilee, Gen. All Rights Reserved.|
|Students working it for the Sumiyoshi Festival in Takehara, Hiroshima. The navigator standing on the bow collects offerings in exchange for a special chant from the hard-rowing crew. (2013)|
|The start of fireworks for the Sumiyoshi Festival in Onomichi, Hiroshima (2014).|
|"Night Blossoms of Onomichi" (c) 2014 Genkilee, Gen. All Rights Reserved.|
|"Kaboom!!" (c) 2014 Genkilee, Gen. All Rights Reserved.|