Conquering the cold – the Japanese way

It is early morning in my host family’s house. The only reason I am awake this hour is of course because of the jet lag. I am lying on the mattress on the floor in my room that has no other furniture than a chair and a rug carpet covering the floor. It is freezing cold but my family gave me a thermo pyjamas and the mattress is electric so I am surviving, although now as I am writing on the laptop, I have to put my hands outside my little warm nest, and they are shivering of cold. Every room in the house has an AC, but the corridors in between has the same temperature as outside basically, which is 3 degrees. It is truly a bit shocking to transport myself between the different rooms.

Another Japanese trick to keep the cold away, besides electric carpets and thermo pyjamas, is to take a traditional Japanese bath before going to bed. There are some important rules attached to this bath. First you have to shower, shampoo your hair and soap your body. After that, clean and fresh, you can go in to the small, but deep stain steel bath tub filled with smoking hot water. It is amazing to sit and relax in the steam as the air around is cold, maybe also because of the little green bath cube they put in the water which gives a strong, fresh smell. After the bath, invigorating and relaxing at the same time, I put on my slippers (very important in a Japanese home) again and go out to get dressed. To keep the warmth in the tiny dressing room there is a gas radiator with a can of boiling water, producing even more steam. I leave the bath tub filled, as the other family members will use the same water, hence the importance of the thorough cleaning beforehand.

The brave members from Solomon islands, our partners in crime in the Ibaraki home stay program, are of course dying of cold. They wear hats, gloves and scarves 24 hours, indoors and outdoors. The Japanese people are of course aware of this and keep apologizing to them in their speeches. Being a Swede, though, it is assumed that these temperatures are a piece of cake…

“For Sweden, we think this is actually warm.”, they say and smile happily.

Well, I just thank my country for the use of central heating and two glass windows.

Now, time to shake life into those stiff fingers by holding a hot cup of lovely green tea as I hear my Japanese mum woke up.


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