A snapshot of Cairns

Our first stop in Australia was Cairns, in the North on the East coast. We were so excited to be in Australia, and we spent our first few days lying in hammocks and enjoying the warm weather. Cairns has a gorgeous lagoon next to the ocean, totally jellyfish free. After two days of coffee shops, long walks and a few swims, we headed out on a boat to the great barrier reef .

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Tsuyu: Heat, humidity and rice planting

I have never lived anywhere where I disliked the weather as much as I do in Japan.  Absurdly hot and humid in the summer, cold in the winter and constantly raining in the spring, there are few days with pleasant weather. A combination of factors make the already ridiculous weather here even more unbearable: I commute to work by bicycle, and Japanese workplaces don’t have air conditioning or heating.*

They call this season Tsuyu – the rainy season. Today, at 8:30, it was already 29°C with a relative humidity of 78%.  After ten minutes of cycling, and ten minutes of pushing my bike up a steep hill, I made it inside my school, where it is also 29°C with a relative humidity of 78%. No relief there. I have started leaving the air conditioner on in my apartment during the day to reduce the humidity and prevent invasions of bugs and mold. Yesterday I found mold on a nail polish bottle in my bedroom. It’s out of control.

Despite the overheating complaints, Japan is exceptionally beautiful during rainy season. The rice fields around my house are being planted this week, and every day I see farmers out  tilling and planting. The spring flowers are still blooming and new ones are appearing every day.

I shouldn’t complain, because I know the moment I come back to Canada and experience the winter’s chill, I’ll miss Japan, bizarre climate and all.


*Note: They do have air conditioning in the staff room and some, not mine, classrooms, but there is a rule about not turning it on until July. Even when they do turn it on, it’s nothing like we are used to in North America.

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Weather, the Ultimate Connector

Right now we are getting a preview of the rainy season. Technically, rainy season starts in June, but there’s been a Typhoon and it’s been raining pretty heavily for three days. It’s not too bad on days where I go to the school on the bus, but on days I go to the school where I walk up the killer hill, I always get soaked.

From the Heavens
Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: jonwick04

No matter, I love the rain. Weather is the best way to make new friends in Japan, or just about anywhere. Everyone loves to complain or at least comment on the weather, and you can do so without many language skills at all. An exaggerated shiver or a fanning motion can signify ‘oh! it’s cold/hot’ and some jazz fingers in a downward motion effectively conveys rain.

Osaka rain
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mondayne

Japan is a particularly excellent place to comment on the weather, as the weather here is so extreme. When I arrived in August, I’d never been so hot in my life. In the winter, due to lack of insulation, closing windows and central heating, I had never before been so cold inside buildings. And now that the rainy season is beginning, you can always comment on that.

Rainbow Night Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: randomwire

Some Japanese!

Atsui desu ne – it’s hot isn’t it?
Samui desu ne – it’s cold isn’ it?
Ame!!! – it’s raining, again.

and my new favourite:
Mushiatsui desu ne – it’s muggy isn’t it?

Now you can connect with Japanese people all year round.

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