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Monday, May 15, 2017

When It Pours, He Reigns

When describing the weather of Japan, it's not one thing or the other...  it’s like saying it’s cold in Canada—complete BS.Vancouver isn't as cold as Quebec City, for example, in February... but yeah, the three Territories we have can be pretty cold.

Toronto gets into the mid to high 30s (Celsius) in August... heck, the past two Decembers I've been in the backyard playing catch with my son... cool, but not cold.

In other words Canada, like Japan, has a wide range of weather conditions.

It has extra-tropical (Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu), sub-tropical (Okinawa), and even subarctic (Hokkaido) climates. 

Well… where I lived in Japan—some 100 kilometers north of Tokyo—it was a lot like Vancouver, but nothing like Vancouver.

I arrived in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan was in August of 1990… and it was hot. But it just wasn’t the heat, it was the stupidity of the humidity.

Always in the mid-30s C, it got more humid as the evening came on, and I was without an AC unit (at that time)… something I had back in Toronto.

But whatever… the newness of being a stranger in a stranger land was exhilarating, so any sweaty discomfort was washed away with my sweat in a nice cool shower.

In my city of Ohtawara, I used to "joke" that in any direction one could throw a rock one was likely to hit a rice field or a 7-11... I use "quotation marks" for joke because it was only a slight exaggeration.

Rice fields? You needs special weather for that, along with proper irrigation to keep the rice paddies flooded.

After the heat of August, the rainy season began in Japan at the onset of September—the first of two rainy seasons in Japan, I might add.

Japan typically get hit by about five typhoons (aka hurricanes) during the month, some larger and more troublesome than others, others that peter out to nothing as they travel north or inland… no biggie.

People still go to work, go to school or in my case go to work at school by riding my bicycle in the downpour.

If the Japanese are doing it, you better do it too.

Anyhow… once the rainy season was over, I discovered that I had somehow offended some Japanese rain god… and that no matter when I traveled outside of Ohtawara, storm clouds would follow or meet me at my destination, and it would rain.

I'm surprised any woman wanted to travel with me, but there were a few plucky adventures who did: Noboko, Trish and Ashley.

I haven't written much about Trish... an oversight I assure you, because she was one of the most awesome people I met while in Japan. I think we actually had a day where it didn't rain on our trip to Kyoto... I do have photographic evidence! Upfront, Trish and I were friends, and while I surely wanted to sleep with her because that who I am, she was loyal to her boyfriend back home.

I'll rectify that soon enough... writing about Trish, that is.

There’s a real reason why I never saw Mt. Fuji in the three years I was in Japan… I had an umbrella over my head constantly blocking my view… that and the fact the mountain was always (Pink Floyd reference) obscured by clouds…

Rain, rain, rain, cloudy with a chance of rain, typhoon season, rain… the sun’ll come out tomorrow, but everyone knows that it’s never tomorrow. It’s always today, and today it’s raining.

Of course the sun came out - for a few hours a day… that’s when I would find a spot on my western balcony—and I mean ON my balcony—catch a few rays to turn the brown skin a healthy copper-orange while reading Stephen King or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle… I’ve never read a book that could scare me, but I have read stories that confounded me…

My buddy Matthew dubbed me the Ame Oktoko (Rain Man), not because of my uncanny resemblance to Tom Cruise, but rather because of the words’ definition.

Now Japanese is a funny language… looking at the romaji (roman-ized letters) ame mean candy or rain, while otoko means man.

I could be the candy man because of my diabetic-inducing love of candy (for the record, the term ‘diabetic-inducing’ is actually correct, as my love of sweets did turn me into a type II diabetic. My bad)

… but Matthew dubbed me the rain man because he and I would travel a fair bit together - whether it was to Tokyo for an expedition for books, food, toys or electronics, or to some mandated JET teaching exposium at another city, or a JET mandated multi-day training seminar.

Matthew would joke - I think it was a joke - about having my Board of Education office send me to parts of Japan that were suffering from a drought.

I could do a rain dance, but I'm not that kind of Indian.

Despite our great friendship, we never vacationed together while in Japan, Matthew being far too smart to do so, after having observed that each time we traveled, it would be a miserable rainy day.

While such weather-related powers seemed to curse me in Japan, they did not follow me across the pond back to Canada.

While it is raining now, that's just a weird coincidence, as Matthew correctly pointed out to my chagrin, it only rained whenever I traveled in Japan.

It beats me why the poor guy wants me to travel with him to Japan for a looky-look one of these days soon--yes, we are still in touch... many of the blog ideas I get are from him and other loyal readers - so don't be shy...

But maybe one day, I will get that opportunity to return to Japan to see what damage I have wrought.

I am curious to see if the Japanese rain god(s) are still upset with me.

Somewhere the grey skies are gonna clear up,
Ame Otoko

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