Winter in Japan seems to provide me with endless inspiration for this blog. One of the things that keeps amazing me is how lightly some Japanese people dress, despite a freezing cold outside. It is not uncommon to see people walking around without a coat, without gloves or in open shoes without socks while it is near freezing outside.
In January we visited Hakone. We took a cable car to the top of a mountain, where it was freezing cold. As soon as we left the relative comfort of the cable car, we had to brace ourselves against gusts of icy wind that chilled us to the bone. Despite having donned up in my full winter armour, I still felt like my face was freezing off.
It was so cold that even dogs were dressed in warm coats, as you can see in the picture below. But if you glance to the girl in the right of the picture, you might notice that she isn’t wearing a coat, just a sweater. How she manages to brace the cold for even five minutes in that attire is beyond me.
She was hardly an exception, as the pictures below illustrate:
And last but not least, a scene from the train on one particularly cold February evening, showing two schoolgirls with bare legs and another girl dressed in an outfit that I myself might wear in May.
Why don’t these people dress warmer? Is it that they just couldn’t be bothered to put on a coat? It can’t just be about being fashionable because salarymen in plain suits do it as well. Are they just as cold as me but ignore it? Or are they actually built differently and therefore less susceptible to the cold?
I have seen some evidence to that last option in the onsen. Japanese ladies often enter both steaming hot or icy cold water without so much as flinching, while I am forced to retreat from the same water because it is physically hurting me. It could be I am just a big sissy, but consider this next fact: Japanese people (and I think Asian people in general) have a lower body temperature than Caucasians. While the average temperature for a Caucasian is around 37° C, for Japanese people it is around 36° C. I have heard stories about Caucasian kids being sent home from a Japanese kindergarten because the teacher thought they had a fever, while in fact they were perfectly healthy.
So many questions… Anyone care to share their experiences on the subject?