Letters from Japan – October 2023

Reflection of green leaves in a temple in Kyoto

Good afternoon,

It is finally only 26°C in Tokyo, and the humidity level is down to 40 %. Walking outside no longer feels like the bravest act of my day. A quick trip to a grocery store is just one of the mundane daily acts and does not carry the same level of thrill as walking in a rainforest. So I can safely say that, after three months, we are in the clear.

Summers in Japan, particularly in its big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, are brutal. When I first moved to Japan, one wise person told me that I should forget all I knew about the beloved summer season. “In Japan, summers are for work”, he said, “the kind that can only be performed indoors”. At the time, it did not sound like bad news. Despite being from Turkey – a peninsula enjoying an extensive coastline along the Black, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas – I have never been much of a summer person. Unlike fall or winter, I always found summer to be a very commanding season that always requires cheerful mood and does not give you much room to feel any way you like. Melancholy in the summer feels like a crime, not a mood.

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