It has begun. The trademark uncomfortable humidity of Japanese summer is upon us.
I have such strong physical associations with spring and summer in Japan - much stronger than any I have back home where the weather is fairly mild all year round. When spring comes here, the air smells different. It feels different, especially when the humidity rises, and you're dressed in shorts and t-shirt (in sharp contrast to most of the Japanese) and freeze when you step into a convenience store or an ATM vestibule because of the aircon. Every summer I'm reminded so strongly of what it felt like to have just arrived here - not knowing where any other JETs lived, not knowing how to get anywhere other than school and the supermarket, not knowing quite what to do with myself. And then hot summer nights, where you never feel cold and you need the aircon on just to get to sleep, and I'm reminded of night-time matsuri (festivals), and dancing Awa Odori for the first time. The physical sensation of summer is so strongly entwined with the memory of it that I'm made to look back without really intending to, and now, on the verge of the end of my time here, so it's a little sad.
But I've said goodbye to so many friends already, that it only makes sense to graduate from this weird JET/ALT world.
But before I do, let's look at a few more snapshots from my life.
Exams started at Kagikou yesterday, so there was no chance of me having anything to do. Today was similar, and faced with hours of emptiness I actually looked forward to be able to leave and go for an appointment with my tattoo artist: