Nagoya Writes

January 6, 2008

Summertime’s a Burning in Japan by Steve Howard

Filed under: Howard,Issue: Dec 2006,Prose — usbengoshi @ 7:17 am

It’s a wonder Basho never duplicated Dante’s Inferno, but then again maybe Basho wasn’t as pissed off. Suffering is a prickly point of Japanese pride, a national identity almost. It’s as if they read the first of the Four Noble Truths and decided that it would be the primary guideline concerning all things Japanese. Though much of Japan has been spearing well into the 30’s this month the junior high school I work at steadfastly refuses to turn on the damn air-conditioning. Instead, they bite their tongues and bear the melting humidity.

I sit at my desk everyday staring at the icy beige colored air-conditioning unit. It calls to me. It tells how lonely and useless it feels. I’m empathetic. The usefulness of an ALT is an often-debated topic here. The need for a native English mouthpiece in the classroom is often just as incompressible to many of the Japanese teachers as the need to turn on the air-conditioning before it has been “officially” announced that summer has arrived.

This is where I think some cold hard Western logic would greatly benefit Japan. If for example the temperature outside reaches 27 C or higher even if the calendar says it is January 1st, then turn on the freaking air-conditioning!

I know, I know, “What about the environment?” “What about the Kyoto Protocol?” and most importantly, “What about Cool Biz?” Well, I’m all for protecting the environment. (Actually, I’m basically just a ponytail, pair of Birkenstocks, and a bag of patchouli short of being a full-blown tree hugger.) The problem is, at least with the Cool Biz part of it, is that Cool Biz caused more pollution than it prevented. That’s right, caused more pollution! It turns out that Koizumi and the LDP gang’s plan to protect the environment backfired. It has been estimated, by some environmentalists that, pollutions levels actually increased when the Cool Biz campaign was kicked off. Garment manufacturers rushing to fill all the Cool Biz summer suit orders ended up generating more pollution than the air-conditioners would have. Japan ended up with more pollution and a bunch of ugly suits. Throw Koizumi’s bad hair into the mix and you’ve got yourself one very hot and ugly bad hair/suit combo situation.

“So what’s the solution?” you scream. How do we save Japan from environmentally evil air-conditionings and fashionably evil Cool Biz suit? The answer (drum roll) SPEEDOS! Yes, SPEEDOS! Japanese companies can let, or more probably force, all Japanese salary men to wear Speedos to the office during the summer months. Most of them already wear beach sandals around the office anyway, so we’ll simply complete their ensemble. Throw open the windows, plug in a fan or two, and let the bare-skinned salary saps cool off the way nature intended.

“But what about the polluting garment industry firing up their factories to fill the new demand for Speedos?” I can hear you asking. Well, it won’t be a problem and here’s why. Aside from a few professional swimmers and some brave or clueless overweight male European beachgoers, there is almost no chance that the piles of unsold Speedos are going to be departing from their dusty shelves anytime soon. Even if every salary man in Japan bought a pair the sporting goods stores would still be pretty hard pressed to deplete their stocks.

In addition to solving the air-conditioning and bad suit problems facing Japan, Speedos would eliminate the need for plastic umbrellas during rainy season which would reduce the amount of non-biodegradable plastic going to the land fills. Consider; Speedos are swimwear designed to be comfortable when wet or dry. Plus, they can easily be wrung out. Now, in addition to enjoying pleasant conversation in the toilet while pooping and peeing, Japanese businessmen can stand bare ass to bare ass happily chatting away while they wring out their Speedos. I’m betting company morale percentages will go through the roof.

So, Japanese salary men everywhere; turn off the air-cons, stow the umbrellas, and burn your Cool Biz suits, (uh, well I guess burning them would be bad for the environment too), recycle, yes, recycle your Cool Biz suits, and join the ball hugging Speedo revolution.

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1 Comment »

  1. UBVrxT Excellent article, I will take note. Many thanks for the story!

    Comment by Cialis — March 7, 2010 @ 3:04 am | Reply


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