Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Let's Talk About Sweat, Baby

I am going to broach a subject we do not discuss in polite UK society, but which has been on my mind constantly now for weeks - sweating.
Sweat  - VoxEfx
The english way has always been that "Horses sweat, men perspire and ladies merely glow" (I say 'english' because I've known some right sweaty scottish men but I'm uninformed about the welsh and northern irish.) However, recently I have been not glowly, nor perspiring, but straight-forwardly running with sweat.

Those of you who read regularly will know that the Byrne is no athlete.
(Image from here.)

I therefore do not sweat because of exercise - but just because it is so freaking hot in Tokyo at the moment. For instance, I just cleaned the surfaces and hob in the tiny kitchen which took about 15 minutes. By the end of it I had to go and get a cloth to mop myself down with. My t-shirt was stuck to my back, there were little rivulets of sweat running down my neck and my face was damp all over. Grim. The reason for all this was at 8.30am I thought it would be ok to do some housework just relying on the through breeze resulting from having all the windows open, forgetting that it was already 30 degrees outside and the humidity was over 70%. I've had to close the windows, put on the aircon and have a sit down directly under it to stem the flow.

Putting on air conditioning is something I feel morally opposed to. It uses up energy to cool the room which heats up the machinery and that heat goes outside making it worse for everyone else. Plus it costs money and electricity is really expensive in japan since they shut down all the nuclear reactors after Fukashima. Plus surely I am not such a wimp as to be brung low by a bit of temperature? But no, I am. My family think I'm nuts for not using it all the time but it just seems so...weak. I don't know if I'll ever get used to it.
#2941 This vehicle [sic] is done to weaken an air conditioner 

There are basic adjustments such temperature causes the people of Japan to make. The first is that every umbrella you own becomes a potential parasol, apart from the nice see-through one I was given as a leaving present. That would be silly.
modeski_circa_01.jpg
The second is that you stick to the shade when you are outside, leading to simultaneous overcrowding and practical desertion on the same street. If you are waiting for a bus or to cross the road you stick to the nearest shady spot, even if it is some distance from the target.
in the shade
And then there is "the cloth". This cloth doesn't appear to have a name but they are sold in every department store in Tokyo and lots of smaller shops too. Every Japanese person has a selection of them and they are essentially personal hand towels - often a bit like a british face flannel - that is carried around in bag or pocket and used for mopping the japanese invisibly sweaty brow. I haven't seen a japanese person sweat anywhere else. The closest I can find online is Tenugui which are long rectangles of cotton.
browsing tenugui at one of my local favorites (h/t @craigmod).
They come in every design you can imagine - traditional, manga, cartoon, pop bands, sports teams and so on. Some people frame them and hang them on the wall. Others use them as bandanas or drape them around their necks like small scarves.

All the time it is so hot it is often not actually that sunny, which is definitely better than when it is. When I have been out in the sun without an umbrella the sun has felt so intense on my skin that it was almost painful. This is therefore curtailing my patrols out of doors although giving me more time to craft inside. I have a large quilt I am making at the moment for Nickerjac which I need to spend some time on so this is no bad thing.

By the way, I was looking for photos to illustrate this post using Flickr's Creative Commons search (how do I love thee etc) when, as you do, I typed in 'sweaty man'. It really is amazing what you can find on that site.
NFM Ben Smith
What is he looking at?


No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails