Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Darling Buds of May

May Day is an interesting turning point in Japan. The heaters go off and soon we'll be embracing the aircon, as the heat rises and the humidity sets in before summer. But just at the moment the weather is  warm and refreshing, the mornings bright and the evenings long and a pleasure. May and October are the best times to experience the country, the inverse of each other as the seasons merge one into another.

The frogs of the mountains will start to sing in chorus and we still have a few weeks before the mosquitos begin to disrupt our lives (as the Dalai Lama surmised "if you think you're too small to change the world, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito"). The cicada, or semi in Japanese, have yet to start their cry and Tokyo is peaceful following the population's exodus to their historical home towns. And it's the day the trains switch over from heating to their cooling systems.

So if you ever thought about visiting this country, you couldn't do much better than May, before the rains of June, the heat of July and humidity of August. September sees the peak of the typhoon season and then the land cools through October, the optimal window at the close of the year. May is a special time, life begins to wake up again after the sleep of winter. We may be at the same latitude as the northern shores of Africa, but those Russian winds are cold. And now they are behind us.

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