Looking to beat the heat? Maybe you fancy a game of chess, or joining fellow sports fans to cheer the national high school baseball tournament.
In Tokyo’s most heavily populated suburb, Setagaya Ward, more than 200 refuges are now open for the elderly, to help them get out of the house and cool off at the same time.
Rest centers provide air-conditioned space and water to seniors, operating until late September.
At a hall in the Gotokuji district, 150 seniors escape the sun each day, to watch TV or find a willing board-game opponent for a round of “go” or “shogi.”
The centers are marked with yellow banners, and 100,000 free maps to show such centers are available at institutions for the elderly.
“The map is helpful because it’s easy to understand,” 72-year-old Mitsuaki Wada said during a visit to the Gotokuji rest site.
With 860,000 residents, Setagaya is the second largest ward in Tokyo. From June 24 to July 19, according to a tally by the ward, 72 people were hospitalized with heatstroke, half of them aged 65 or older.
“A typical case of heatstroke is when a senior stays at home alone,” a Setagaya official said. “We hope during daytime hours they will cool off at rest stations with their friends and stay healthy.”
The refuges also help to save power, the official says, as people can switch off the air conditioner at home.
Japan’s government and power companies have been urging consumers to use less electricity during the hot summer months while most of the country’s nuclear power stations stand idle.
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