Robin had these questions:
How do you/they survive in the heat and humidity? Do you at least use fans? Is air conditioning even available? I can never understand why Japan, a country of such wonderful electronics etc, puts up with season after season of cold and heat and humidity without doing what Americans do – get central heating and air conditioning.
To answer these questions I actually discussed them with the four women in Tuesday-ladies group. I really wanted to get their opinions and perspective. It was very interesting! The answers are from the perspective of native Japanese-all older mature women.
Here are their comments (various comments from the 4 women):
Central heat and air conditioning are not cultural in Japan. We Japanese enjoy living naturally with the seasons and natural temperatures. Culturally we have other ways of keeping cool or warm during various seasons. For example-we have kotatsu heater tables , kerosene stoves and warm clothing in the winter. In the summer we use electric fans, cool neck scarves, hand fans, and ice.
Living with the natural temperatures is good for the body. We are hard workers both inside and outside. Relying on central heat or coolness would affect our body in an adverse way and we would become weak-and not be able to work so hard outside during winter or summer months.
Japanese people view central heat and cool as something “foreign” in many ways. It does not fit well with our philosophy of life.
Central heating and cooling is considered a luxury. It is a very expensive system to install and only rich people can afford such luxury.
Traditionally Japanese do not have personal rooms for everyone. Houses are small and families traditionally gather together in one room. That is the room that is heated with a kotatsu or kerosene heater. It is considered wasteful to heat or cool the entire house when only one room is being used.
Japanese houses are structurally different. They aren’t built with the intention of installing a central system-anyways, it would be far too costly to install.
Electricity to run a central system would be too expensive.
There is some form of central heat in Hokkaido because it gets very cold there and they have lots of snow. We don’t need that kind of system here because it does not get as cold and anyways-we are tough.
And some notes from Mrs. N: Robin-we do have wall units that can be installed (not cheap) that blow cool air in summer and hot air in winter. We have two such units-one in our bedroom and one in the TV room. However we only turn on one at a time-running them both at the same time is expensive and anyhow-we only heat or cool the room we are in-this is the philosophy here-motainai or waste not want not. This is Japanese culture. Takes some getting used to. Sometimes I complain and whine…. :)