Netsuchūshō –English : HEAT STROKE
I can’t tell you how many times I hear that word during the summer months. There are a few different words for “heat stroke” but netsuchusho is the one that is most commonly used in our area.
As soon as the rainy season fades into the sweltering hot days of the Japanese summer the word “netsuchusho” is heard constantly. So frequently do I hear this word uttered- that it has become a signature part of summer for me.
I can’t imagine a summer without these anymore.
Delicate glass wind chimes hang from my back porch tinkling with each hot breeze. I’ve hauled out my stash of hand fans and put one in each handbag that I regularly use. You really don’t want to leave home without a fan or a hankie.
The rice fields are already teeming with red dragonflies. I had several visit me in my garden today as well. As I was pulling weeds I also saw several tell-tale holes in the ground-the summer cicada have begun to dig their way up out of the ground. I noticed quite a few empty “shells” stuck to tree and shrub branches. They climb out of the ground and shed their hard exoskeleton which stays glued to tree limbs, trashcans, fence posts and just about any other object they happened to climb onto.
Soon the air will be screaming with the sounds of summer semi (cicada). They are SO loud that at times I literally have to cover my ears because the pitch vibrates my inner ear in such a way that my ears literally feel like they are going to pop.
I was talking to my mom on the phone once and she said-
“What on earth is that sound”?
She was astonished when I told her they were bugs. She said that it sounded like a dozen or more car alarms going off.
I got up very early today to work in my garden which needed a complete overhaul after all the rain we’d been having.
During the rainy season the mosquitoes build up their ranks. You can’t work in the garden without lighting several mosquito coils….another icon of summer here. I do have the traditional clay “pig” that is usually used for burning coils but today empty cans and the big burner will do.
As I was donning my garden gear-long pants, a long-sleeved, high collar shirt, garden apron, gloves and arms covers and last but not least my Japanese garden bonnet…my husband said…
“mama-be careful….Netsuchūshō” !
Indeed-the temps got up to 101 degrees F ! I was outside before 7AM and it was already 86 degrees. I managed to get everything done that I wanted to do in the backyard. There was a lot that needed to be cut back. With all the rain everything was over grown. I gathered six huge bags of cuttings and such from the backyard.
We have to buy special “regulation” trash bags. The “garbage men” (sorry for the not-so-politically correct name) will not take any trash that isn’t in regulation trash bags. Each area has their own bags. They aren’t cheap-10 bags for 600 yen.
It was HOT. I’m a fairly strong person but today just about knocked me over. I had to take a break every thirty minutes or so.
I harvested the cucumbers. Checked the tomatoes and staked them. I surveyed the kabocha and saw that my efforts to fertilize might be working so I left them alone. The plan was to rip them out if they were not going to produce anything. I saw that the Japanese bell peppers have tiny peppers growing and my blueberries are getting ripe.
On the ONE day that I need to be outside, the toilet vacuum truck was making the rounds. To say that the neighborhood “stank like heck ” as a true Wisconsinite would say-is an understatement. Toilet vacuum trucks are part of life in the Japanese countryside. In the summer they are horrid. The entire neighborhood and the house stinks for hours after they have been in the area.
They were at the neighbor’s house…parked right beside my wall…exactly where I was working.
So I worked in the backyard until noon, took a lunch break, soaked my head in cold water for a while and thought I might be able to get the front yard done too.
I was out front for about an hour and suddenly I felt dizzy and sick to my stomach….and the word Netsuchūshō came to mind. Just at that moment my neighbor opened her genkan to put something outside and she saw me….
“konnichiwa, it’s hot..be careful…Netsuchūshō”!
Yes indeed I think that is exactly what was going to happen if I didn’t stop right then. My husband said there have been several heat related deaths in the past few days .
I gathered my tools, lugged them to the backyard storage with great effort, sweating profusely. I was getting dizzier by the moment.
Standing under the cool shower was such a relief.
Japanese summers are insanely hot and humid and Netsuchūshō is a word to heed!