Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Autumn Days

Autumn is my favourite season. I know some people find the shorter days and cooler weather depressing, but after all that heat and humidity I welcome the end of summer here. Mind you it's not only because of that, because I've always loved autumn, even before coming to Japan.

Right now the weather is just right for me. Clear, sunny days with temperatures in the low to mid 20s, with somewhat cooler nights. Even now in mid-October, there are still times when I'm too hot really. It amuses me when people here are surprised to see me still wearing short-sleeves, in October! They don't base their comments on the actual weather at the time, but purely on the calendar. As in, 'Aren't you cold? It's October!', even if it's 27 degrees... Schools change to winter uniforms at the beginning of October and around town people suddenly start wearing boots and scarves. The other day a woman I know told me she had just changed her cushions from summer ones to winter ones...

Anyway, for me autumn means Hallowe'en, my birthday, Guy Fawkes night... That last one passes me by now unfortunately, but Hallowe'en has been growing in popularity more and more ever since I first came to Japan. I love fancy dress, and the annual foreigner-run Hallowe'en party here is one of the highlights of the local social scene.

at the local shopping centre

our 100yen shop decorations

More typically in Japan, autumn means sports days, culture festivals (November 3rd is Culture Day, a national holiday), autumn foliage and food. There's a saying, shoku-yoku no aki, which literally means 'appetite autumn', pointing out that lots of tasty things are in season now.

If you're a small child, it seems that autumn also involves digging up sweet potatoes. Every kindergarten or primary school around either grows their own or organises a little field trip to harvest some. K (and the rest of us) went up to Daisen with his pre-school last week to dig sweet potatoes (and collect chestnuts), and he also helped H's mum harvest some the other day too. Luckily they make perfect baby food for T, boiled and mashed...

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