Summer is not the best time to be in Tokyo. Starting in June, the heat becomes uncomfortably warm, then combines with the early summer rains to produce oppressive humid days and nights. Once the rainy season passes, the temperatures soar and the crowds, asphalt, concrete and glass combine with the heat emitted by countless air conditioning units to create a furnace-like atmosphere on the city streets. Escape is sought in the relatively cool underground pathways and the chilled climate-controlled stores, restaurants and cafes of Tokyo’s many shopping malls and depato.
And yet I’ve always like summer — ideally on a tranquil beach far away from cars and high rise towers. But even in Tokyo, where, on the airless August streets, my sweat-soaked body, like so many others, gives in to torpor and listlessness, the season’s languid mood and casual clothes somehow lighten the place up, and seem to release it from the self-importance and seriousness that come with its role as engine room of the country’s economy. And as the temperatures begin to drop in September, shoes replace sandals and jackets cover shirts, and, like a hazy heat mirage, summer is suddenly gone. All that’s left are snapshots and memories.