It's getting hotter and hotter now as summer kicks into full swing (The big kick is that my daughter is home now everyday for summer vacation, but that is another story.) So recently my English impact students have been brainstorming ways to beat the heat or stay cool (涼しくなる).
The cool thing about brainstorming is that there is no right or wrong answer. Ideas are thrown out freely. In fact, I have learned so many ways to beat the heat Japanese-style - combined with my American-know-how (知識)- that it seemed like an obvious time to write a new blog. You probably have heard most of these suggestions, but anything that can help you survive summer's heat and humidity is welcome, right?
So, in no particular order, here are 10 ways to cool off in summer.
1.) Wear as few clothes as possible. By this I mean, most Japanese adults feel embarrassed to go out in public in shorts, t-shirts and sandals. Americans have no such reservations, but for some reason Japanese feel conscious about showing too much skin. The less you wear, the cooler you'll feel (And, no, this is not an invitation for Americans to show even more skin. Keep it modest.).
2 Eat something cold, like ice cream, cold Chinese noodles (冷やし中華）or shaved ice (かき氷). Instant gratification!
3.) Or eat something hot and spicy like curry & rice or ramen. Other Japanese people think that this makes you sweat which automatically starts cooling down your body. Like I said, with brainstorming there is no wrong answer!
4.) Eat summer fruits and vegetables. They're in season for a reason - tomatoes and mini-tomatoes can help protect your skin from harmful UV rays; watermelons, eggplants (なすび) & cucumbers can help keep you hydrated since they are composed mainly of water.
5.) I know, I know, turning on the air conditioning (A/C) is the quickest relief, but it's also the most expensive and environmentally-unfriendly. Try opening up your windows and running an electric fan, especially at night. Or go to a public place like a library or shopping mall and take advantage of its free A/C.
6.) Go for a swim at your local swimming pool. Or is swimming in such a pool isn't your thing, buy a plastic, inflatable pool for your yard.
7.) Buy a wind chime (風鈴). Most Japanese swear that just by hearing this sound on a hot summer day, they feel cooler. Again, no wrong answers in this game.
8.) Grow a green curtain to cover your windows. Morning glories (朝顔), cucumbers and bitter melons (ゴーヤー) all have vines that can be arranged to cover your windows from the outside, providing cool, beautiful protection from the sunshine.
9.) Sprinkle some water on the sidewalk, driveway or pavement outside your home around sunset. It will help cool off the surrounding area around your home. If you have a garden, sunset is a great time to water the plants to keep them hydrated overnight.
10.) Stay positive. Summer is just one of the four season and will be over soon. Constantly saying, "It's so hot!" or "I'm so hot!" only makes it worse for you and the people around you.
There are lots of ways to beat the heat this summer. Hopefully, reading this blog has cooled you down just a bit. If not, go get some ice cream. Just watch out for a brain freeze (キンキン). It's the only thing worse than brainstorming.
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