It snowed on Okinawa today! New Years Day 2009 had a very auspicious beginning here on tiny Okinawa as a result of snow falling on this subtropical paradise of the Far East. What you see in the photograff above is some trees in my back yard. Okay, so what? is probably what your saying to yourself right now. But look closely at the little white streaks throughout, those my good friends and neighbors are snow flakes mixed with rain. Now the temperature at the time was far too warm for the snow to stay let alone accumulate but it fell none the less. Now I admit that this photograph is hardly proof positive either. Hell it may as well be a photo of an alien abduction because even I will admit that what you see here is hardly anything that could be considered clear or conclusive evidence.
You're invited to check out my other blog, "Expatriate Games" for a more detailed description of the day's (as well as the New Year's) auspicious beginning. But these photos are provided to help you understand the differences in Japanese culture and what ever your's may be. Me, I'm from the American Mid-West.
This is how we heat our homes in Japan. That's a Kerosene heater with a very large tea kettle on top. The kettle heats and the water inside turns to steam. Moist air can hold more heat than dry air and so the house or room stays a little warmer than what you might otherwise get with just the heater.
Also important to note is that in Japan, the vast majority of houses do not have central heating. If you want that, be prepared to shell out the big bucks, "er make that Yen." People will use small space heaters like the one pictured here and then close off the rooms which they are not using. Also being kerosene, the heater is ususally shut off at night and then relighted the next morning. Lucky for us this is Okinawa and not Hokkaido.
People in Japan will also resort to wearing more layers of clothing when it gets cold outside and likewise in the home. One very popular item and a must for anyones wardrobe is the Hanten (kinda pronounced like "Hang-Ten" pictured here. Think of it like a quilted smoking jacket. It keeps your innards nice and toasty and your body's core temperature where it should be.
Lastly pictured below is the Japanese gift to icy toes. It's called a Kotatsu. It's a small table set on the floor and people huddle around it. You'll note the nice quilted blanket that encircles it but the kotatsu has one more little surprise in store for anyone suffering from "popsicle toes" syndrome.
Underneath the table top is a small electric heater (note the electric cord at the far right corner). Most Japanese homes minimize when it comes to furniture, most folks sit on the tatami mat floors and this little bugger is a must have if you live anywhere in the Japan.
Click on the link provided to check out my other post on this matter on my "Expatriate Games" blog titled (Snow Falls in Okinawa).