Even hydrangeas, whose name means “water jar” in ancient Greek, can withstand only so much rain.
Hydrangeas in bloom on a roadside hit by a heavy rain appeared fed up with the downpour as they wearily swayed in the lingering wind. After landing on the Kii Peninsula, Typhoon No. 4 raced through the Japanese archipelago and moved to the ocean off the Tohoku region.
It was the first time in eight years that a typhoon hit Japan in June. The unseasonable, raging storm took us somewhat by surprise. Typhoon No. 5 is also approaching Kyushu, as if to go around a high pressure system in the Pacific Ocean stretching over Japan. Precautions must be taken against a “resonance” of typhoons and seasonal rainy fronts that are capable of causing heavy damage.
“Day breaks after a short night/ The smell of water” is a haiku by Mantaro Kubota (1889-1963).
Amid a long spell of rain, it is also the time of year when we notice the signs of summer in early daybreak. June 21 is the summer solstice--when the day holds the most. Based on the times of sunrise and sunset in Tokyo, the night that ended at dawn on June 21 was 9 hours and 25 minutes long, accounting for only 39 percent of the entire day. In Sapporo, it was 36 percent.
After the summer solstice, daytime gets shorter. But summer heat starts in earnest after the end of the rainy season. Around that time, telecasts that will cause us to lose sleep will start arriving from London, the venue of the Summer Olympics. For those of us who stay up late to watch television, “nighttime” is expected to get even shorter. Late night television induces us to use lighting and air conditioning. Our efforts to save energy will be put to the test.
Concerns about a shortage of electricity have shifted from the Tokyo area to the Kansai region this summer. When we take into account the schedule of Olympic events, the peak power-saving efforts are expected in around early August, which marks the start of autumn in the traditional Japanese calendar.
This year, too, we must prove that conservation of electricity is “the strongest power plant.”
I heard that in years when typhoons strike in June, the rainy season tends to end early. Apparently, this is because high pressure systems in the Pacific are that much stronger. Once Typhoon No. 4 passed, the temperature in Tokyo topped 30 degrees for the first time this year. The smell of water, the foreboding of intense heat and determination to save electricity are like a movie trailer that passes at a quick pace. I can almost hear the sound of the turning wheels of the four seasons.
--The Asahi Shimbun, June 21
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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