Technology and Winter

People who haven’t been to Japan always ask me about how technologically advanced Japan is. “I heard Japan is covered in bullet trains and robots….that do your laundry!”

No. I don’t even have a dryer. I DON’T HAVE A DRYER. When I first got to Japan, that was definitely up there on my “shocking findings” list. Although drying your clothes outside on a pole does take more effort and more time, I’ve gotten used to it. It makes me feel like I’m saving the world, one load of laundry at a time.

Some people do have dryers though. You’ve just got to be rich enough to have a big house (in Japan…) to even think about it. There’s simply no room for extra luxuries in this country. You learn to make do, or you spend a little extra to use the coin laundry.

I also don’t have an oven or a dishwasher for the same reasons. I know people with glorious baking machines, but they also have relatively glorious houses. I really can’t recall if I’ve ever seen a dishwasher.  People in Japan wash their dishes by hand, and I admire that. I grew up with a dishwasher, and learning to do everything with two 5-digit tools god gave me took time. It’s just another way Japan has made me feel like a privileged brat.

I feel like Japan doesn’t have a massive consumerist mentality when it comes to home appliances. People just spend more money on their appearances and nights out I guess.

Anyway, this post is not an attempt to demystify the lack of home technologies in Japan. I wanted to say, that despite the fact I’ve learned to live with and even love my now simpler life, I’m having a hard time getting over the heating systems used in this part of the world.

My main source of heat in my home is a space heater pointed at my bed. Also, I work in schools, right? We know this. Where have you been? Schools in Japan, as you probably could conclude from this and previous posts, do not have central heating. Or any heating. Save for the staff rooms and the library, maybe, Japanese schools are ice boxes full of bare legs and sadness. Yes, girls wear skirts. Without tights. BARE LEGS IN SUBZERO WEATHER. The teachers’ rooms have simple, no-fuss gas stoves. I asked my boyfriend why Japan tortures its youth, and he said it’s to build character. It toughens them up. A teacher told the kids once that American kids probably think Japanese kids are amazing and strong for enduring winters sitting in cold wooden desks while learning how to buy shoes in America. American kids would probably think Japan’s insane and then decide to never come here while they’re school age.

advanced heating technology

advanced heating technology

That’s what I thought. Japan, you’re crazy. But winter goes on. The temperature does not give in to my complaints. It is not forgiving. And I see these kids go about their school day, just like they would if it wasn’t two degrees Celsius out. Some kids still run around in their athletic shorts. Maybe some of them will get sick, but they’ve been doing this since they were five. I’m sure they’re used to it. Many of them do complain, but they’re wearing far less clothing than me. What can I say? Besides the necessary “寒いーーー.”

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