Monday, December 7, 2009


So, it's been a while and I have about a month's worth of anecdotes to share, which I may do in separate blog segments because I am lazy. First up, we must contend with...

THE COLD. Fukuoka is not actually that cold, relatively speaking--so far temperatures have been hovering around the low 50's most of the time, 40's in the morning and at night. Problem is, Japanese housing does not have central heating or insulation. The reasoning behind this, from what I've read, is that homes are designed with the blazing Japanese summers of death in mind, to let air and breezes in, since one can always just bundle up in winter. But anyway what happens is, it's the same temperature indoors as it is out. 50 degrees may not sound so bad, but come talk to me once you realize YOU CAN NEVER GET WARM.

There are inventions that deal with this: one is the kotatsu, which is in fact delightful. It's a table with a heating unit underneath and a space to put a heavy blanket that traps the heat. So people kind of burrow under it and get nice and toasty. There's also clothing you can buy at Uniqlo called Heat Tech (pronounced "heat-o tech") that supposedly is made of magical fibers that keep you warm. There are also kerosene heaters, which I've decided not to go for since I'd probably burn down the building if I used one.

Luckily, my air con unit also functions as a heater, and keeps my living and bedroom warm enough. Unluckily, if I get up in the night to pee, there's a thirty degree drop once I leave the bedroom, and the toilet seat is without fail freezing to the point that I'm afraid my butt cheeks will stick to it, like Jim Carrey's tongue to the pole in Dumb and Dumber. Waking up and noticing a need to urinate leads to an inner battle of wills, as I try to ignore the urge and go back to sleep, knowing that if I don't, it will be some time upon returning to my futon before I warm up again enough to drift back off.

Another issue is that Japan is so annoyingly environment-conscious (or perhaps stingy with electric bills) that the prefectural Board of Education would not let Fukuoka public schools turn on their space heaters until December 1st. Because we know it's cold by the date, not the temperature. And, my vice-principal insisted on leaving the windows in the staff room open because the Japanese are morbidly afraid of influenza (more on that some other time, maybe) and think that, I guess, uncirculating air will lead to mass infection and the school shutting down, and, horror of horrors, A DROP IN PRODUCTIVITY. So before I left for a trip to L.A. (more on that later, maybe) working hours were sort of like being a nomad living in a yurt on the snow-covered Mongolian steppe, or something. No amount of heat-o tech could save me.

But now it's December 7th, so we know it's cold, and the heat is on.


  1. OK - so we are opening our bedroom windows tonight in a fit of familial empathy. Hot water bottles in the bed help out here. Need one?

  2. Yurt! This is a new word I just learned from your blog this evening. Can we have an entry about your presumably disassociative experience returning to the States?

  3. Maggie, I should get one! That or an electric blanket.

    Viv, that's what I'm planning for my next entry...

  4. I am feeling a bit chilly just reading your post!

  5. I am disgusted that you referenced DUMB AND DUMBER instead of A CHRISTMAS STORY. You are a disgrace to the 1961 Yankees.