A Guide To Surviving The Japanese Winter Or Welcome To NaBRRRi

January 13, 2010

In one of the poorer technological decisions I’ve made since deciding paying $2.99 for the “I Am T-Pain” application, the two cities I check on my phone for weather reports are Nabari and Los Angeles. While the LA page boasts “highs in the 70s” and beaming suns, the Nabari page can only muster up numbers in the 30s and the vaguest of all weather systems, “wintery mix.” It’s a constant reminder that while someone in the greater Los Angeles area is complaining about 63 degrees being “freezing,” I’m unable to feel my face en route to work.

The Japanese winter (at least where I am) isn’t nearly as severe as a Midwestern winter…but for someone who grew up in a place where putting on a jacket at night was considered “braving the elements,” it’s still pretty unfun. So how does one survive a Japanese winter? One an exciting questions, I’m sure you’ve reacted. I’m here to answer.

Use A Potentially Life Threatening Heater – Reason number 2034 I would never want to be reborn as a Japanese schoolchild – none of the schools I work at are heated. The halls feel like a meat locker, and I imagine it’s even worse for the students who have to wear uniforms not designed for the cold. The only escape from shivering comes in the classroom, where large rectangular heaters kinda resembling the Gonk robot have been temporarily placed. These bulky additions offer adequate heating, but they also seem a bit…sketchy. They smell quite badly (like kerosene), and at one of my schools they’ve drawn a square around the device. It indicates where not to stand because when you turn it on it initially shoots fire out from it’s side. What could go wrong with having a miniature flamethrower in the class?

Ride The Train Non-Stop – Even more love for Japan’s public transit incoming! The trains here are freakishly warm, especially if you are lucky enough to snag a seat. The heaters are underneath the red benches, so it almost gets too hot. If you have a spare $20 to spend on a ticket, this options completely doable.

Take Long, Scalding Showers – This was my preferred method of staying warm until…

Learn To Use Your Heating Unit Properly – I spent weeks pressing random buttons on the unit’s remote control, hoping one day I’d stumble on the combination that would make not-cold air come out. Alas, I had no luck, and got by wearing a peacoat indoors/taking stupid long showers/not getting out of bed. Nothing weird about that! One day, my supervisor stopped by my apartment and I asked her how to make it work. She pressed two buttons and just like that, hot air pumping out after only five seconds. I’m dumb, but at least I’m warm now.

Wear Warm Clothing – Psssssh, whatever.

Be A Japanese Woman – I though Japanese students were ill-dressed for the winter…go into Osaka. Not to sound like a puritan, but a large chunk of young women roaming around the streets there wear thigh-level shorts and fishnets in the middle of January. They usually at least have a sweater, so I’ll give them credit there. But still…are they really good at hiding the freeze-induced pain or do they have the same genetic makeup as polar bears?

Live In Okinawa – Bastards.

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