Tag Archives: cold

2012 Picture of the Week (51/52) – Frosty

My previous post was about the cold winter we’re about to have here in Japan.  Well, this morning, I saw something I’ve never seen in December here, frost.  It’s usually not this cold in December.  Frost and snow is usually around in January and February, not December.  Also, it’s expected to be -3°C in the morning.  Many people I’ve talked to in Japan have never felt a temperature colder than -10°C.  I’ve experienced -42°C.

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Frosty ground!

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Filed under Fujisawa, Japan, Kanagawa, Picture of the Week, Weather

How about some wind to go with the cold?

It has been a cold November and December so far.  From what I’ve heard, October was one of the warmer Octobers on record, while November was one of the colder ones.  The Japan Meteorological Agency is predicting that this winter will be colder than last winter.  Last winter was a cold one!  And then today, we had an incredible amount of wind.  Goodbye leaves.

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The wind was devastating to the gingko leaves.

It’s funny how the temperatures we’re getting now are cold to me.  In Canada, this kind of weather, averaging 9 to 14 degrees Celsius, would have been balmy at this time of year.  It’s been extremely snowy and cold in Canada so far this fall.  But here in the Tokyo region, we rarely get snow.  So why is it that I feel so cold?  Of course, today’s wind made it feel very cold.  But even when it isn’t windy, I feel very cold.  I think it has to do with the environment I live in.  This kind of weather would have felt cold in early October in Canada.  However, it would feel warm in December.  It’s all in how you perceive it.  It’s what you’re used to.  By this time, below 0 is the norm in Canada, so above 0 would feel warm.  However, we have yet to feel a significant amount of time at this temperature, so it feels cold.

But another big difference is inside the home.  In Canada, thanks to central heating and good insulation, it’s always warm inside. In Japan, homes are built to allow air to move freely during the extremely hot summer months, but they don’t seem to take into account that it gets cold in winter. No central heating, except in the north.  Poor insulation is a big problem here.  Some people have suggested that insulation isn’t used much here because of the humidity, but I don’t buy it.  Vancouver and Victoria are very humid for half the year, yet they have good insulation.  In the 5 years that I lived in Victoria, I had no problems with insulation.

Inside in Japan, it is cold. This can be alleviated by using kerosene heaters, electric heaters, air conditioners, or kotatsu (tables with heaters underneath).  Some people even have heated floors.  But I think one of the best things is to have some nice hot food, such as ramen, nabe, udon, or curry.  That’ll heat me up.

What do you do in cold winter months to keep yourself warm?

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You’re from Canada, so…

…you must love cold weather. Summer must be hard for you.

I hear that a lot.  It couldn’t be farther from the truth.  My least favourite season is winter.  I don’t like the cold.  Japan has varied winter weather across the country, but in the Tokyo area, it’s fairly mild, around 5-10 degrees.  It’s still cold to me.  It’s still my least favourite season in Japan.

I like spring and fall, but the weather is somewhat unstable.  It can suddenly become cool and make it difficult for me to get out of the shower in the morning.

That brings us to summer.  Summer in Japan is predictable and stable.  Every day, the weather is likely to be hot, humid and sunny.  I like that in Japan’s summer.  I even enjoy the hot weather.  It means I don’t have to feel cold for the next 3 months, at least not until November.

So, to everyone who thinks I must like winter because I’m from Canada, you’re wrong.  Give me Japan’s hot and humid summer over winter any time.

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Japan vs Canada: Having a cold

I was just thinking about how there have been a lot of people catching a cold lately in Japan.  I had one last month.  It was a pretty mild and short cold, thankfully.  Now, there are a couple of big differences between Japan and Canada concerning colds.

1.  Japanese people will wear facemasks when they have a cold.  The masks are also worn during hay fever season, too.  But with Japan being so densely populated in the cities, and many people taking the train and interacting with others, wearing a facemask is very polite and courteous.  This never happens in Canada.  If someone was wearing a facemask in Canada, they either have a very dangerous disease (Tuberculosis, for example) or they’re a bank robber.  People will be very cautious if they see a facemask.

2.  Whenever I’ve had a cold in Japan, people tell me to get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water and…..go to the hospital (or clinic).  In Canada, if you went to the hospital because of a cold, they’d tell you to go home and stop wasting their time.  Actually, doctors can’t do anything for someone who has a cold other than tell them what they already know, get sleep, drink water and take some medicine which is easily found in a pharmacy.  I’ve never been to a doctor about a cold in Japan, and I don’t plan on starting.  I’ll take my medicine, which is what the doctor would tell me to do.  I guess it’s my experience of the Canadian medical system that tells me that seeing a doctor about a cold is useless.

Japan is a very health-conscious country, but I don’t think it’s doctor visits that make Japan number 1 in life expectancy.  It’s the food and the daily walking everyone does.  Elderly people keep walking and eating healthy food.  In Canada, elderly people tend to sit and watch TV all day and eat the same food they used to eat when they were young.  Canada’s cold winter doesn’t help, either.  People just don’t go out to exercise in winter.  In Japan, where I live, it’s actually a great temperature to go hiking in the middle of winter.

I think the biggest difference between Japan and Canada in terms of health care is people’s attitude.  Though during the recent swine flu scare, which I think is more media scaremongering than an actual threat, the Japanese response has been as expected, mostly.  I was surprised when they were telling people with flu symptoms to just stay home, as the swine flu is quite mild, and there’s no need to infect all the elderly patients at the hospital.

I have a couple students who are doctors.  I wonder what they think.  Actually, for all my students, what do you think about what I said?

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