Japan has a very poetic way of describing the weather that rolls in at the end of May and only surrenders the islands when the thaiphoons frighten it off in July: Plum Rains. What this means in practical terms is 80 degree all-day rain for weeks on end. It’s so humid that wearing anything but 100% cotton is out of the question, and the heat is only moderately tolerable because we know that the summer has worse in store.
At any rate, traveling is a bit more difficult than usual, but we do try to rush out to the parks when it clears for a bit. Today Jen and I walked over to a local temple that was having a festival (a rather unexciting one in the end), and then to a neighborhood a few trains stops away that has a pretty canal-walk. We have a pool on our apartment compound, which is lovely after walking around Tokyo in the warm mugginess, even if it is filled with screaming children most of the time. We got through the day without being rained on, but the previous few days have been quite damp, so we also got plenty of board games in this weekend.
Jen and I were both a bit under the weather last week, so it was nice to have a lazy weekend. We also did a bunch of planning for upcoming visitors and also our own escape plans — we now have tickets to Taiwan! We are going in July, so it will be just as muggy there as Tokyo, but at least we’re becoming acclimatized in advance!
My boss has departed for his next post, which is really too bad — he’s a good guy (he and his wife became good friends with Jen and I) and a good manager so it’s hard to see him go. He wrote me a really nice review before taking off, and is singularly good at dealing with the dreaded bureaucracy, which is a skill that will be missed in the office. Hopefully the new guy will be as good, but we will see in July. Along with all the turnover and upheaval of people moving from post to post at work, we have the influx of summer interns, who are cute and nervous and very formal. I haven’t managed enough people in my life to really think of myself as the kind of person that a junior office-worker needs to be cautious of, so having the intern in my office totally freaked out over whether to call me by my first or last name was vaguely startling. I’ve been working pretty hard to put her at her ease with me, and she seems to be relaxing a bit. I had to train her on a few things, and she seems like a good kid, so hopefully I can be helpful to her.
We also finally caught the pernicious little scamps that have been eating all the blooms off our flowers and pulling the plants out of their pots by the roots — two birds (variety TBD, although not the ravens we had originally suspected. we got a photo of them, so we’ll look it up) who appear to be after the hay-like pot-liner on our window boxes, probably for their nests, but who also appear to have some sort of personal grudge against the plants therein. Buggers. I’ve taken to yelling at them from the living room whenever they come near the porch… which tends to startle Jen, but fortunately our neighbors are out of earshot.
And in a last random story for the week — we recently bought a pair of unidentified squashes at the local grocery store, assuming we could figure out what to do with them when we got home. However first google failed me, and then my friends in Japan couldn’t figure out what sort of squash I could be talking about, and I settled on just steaming the thing to see what it tasted like. I chopped it open, and fortunately I gave it a good sniff before throwing it in the steamer — it wasn’t a squash at all, but a Korean Melon! It has a yellow-orange skin, white flesh, and seeds in the middle, all of which are edible. The whole thing is sweet and moist, a little like a honeydew. A lovely new discovery, I’m just glad I didn’t cook it!