Hello again from Japan, where the zipper in your pants is known as the “window of society” (shakai no mado), one of my favorite random euphemisms.
This has been a difficult summer for Japan. First, the heat has been incredible, contributing to more than 100 deaths and sending thousands to the hospital, including comedian George Tokoro, who plays the voice of Ponyo’s father. Japan has also started finding that some of its oldest citizens are in fact dead or missing. It all started when municipal authorities decided to check up on an 111 year old man, only to find a mummified corpse that had been there for thirty years. This may have been part of the man’s personal choice to self-mumify himself in a Buddhist custom of purification, but his family is going to have some ‘splaining to do about why they kept his pension money for themselves all these years. Another 50 centenarians are said to be missing, including a 113-year-old woman born in 1897, Tokyo’s oldest citizen.
Yes, this summer has been a hot one, with temperatures as high as 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit), of course with very high humidity. It’s the perfect weather for enjoying some Japanese mugi cha or refreshing barley tea, which is the most popular drink in Japan when it’s hot out. In Japan there’s a nice custom called shochuu omimai or a mid-summer greeting card. Individuals and businesses exchange these cards in July and August, and the various companies J-List works with such as Soft on Demand and dating-sim game companies Will and Nitroplus send us these cards to see how we’re handling the hot summer.
Midsummer greetings cards are a nice tradition in Japan.