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Winter is assault; summer is seduction

And thus it came to pass that summer arrived.

Not overnight, as winter tends to do when it slams into the city and rages around the narrow alleys, but softly, with a wink and a smile.

Winter is assault; summer is seduction.


Early summer in Tokyo. Windows and balcony doors remain open. You wake up at night and realize that you're too hot in your oversized Mad Dogs T-shirt, and that perhaps it's time to start using the electric fan. Air conditioning? No. No no no. Last year you didn't switch on your air con until August, and you'll be damned if you hands-up sooner this year.

You go on a walkpedition next to your beloved Sumidagawa, with your sentinel Sky Tree standing guard on the horizon, hazy in the hot air, and your body turns damp within minutes. You're not sweating rivers yet – it's not that limp soggy drenched sensation of mid-summer – but you know it was a wise decision to wear a white shirt that won't display the perspiration gathering under your backpack.

This photo was taken from Umayabashi. The boats are floating restaurants: you can rent them for dinner and parties.

No, it's not very hot yet. You don't put on sunscreen or insect repellent before you set off, because it isn't really necessary: the sun is mild and benevolent, and the mosquitoes haven't organized attack squadrons. You're not wearing sunglasses, but neither are you squinting into a blinding haze.

You're already immensely irritated by women who carry parasols and have no concept of personal space or the simple fact that a parasol is considerably bigger than their tiny heads housing their tiny brains. You've turned into a total prat: you refuse to duck out of their way. If they don't tip it sideways as they walk past you, you slap it away as if it were a pesky gnat. You'd prefer to slap them, but even barbarians know where to draw the line.

I walked along this path. The green bridge is Umayabashi.

(You do wonder whether you should rewrite all personal descriptions on social media and simply say, "Ru Sumida, parasol hater.")

Your hair is permanently in a ponytail, and your hiking boots have been replaced by vellies which will soon step aside for what you call your Jesus sandals: handmade South African leather sandals more comfortable than bare feet.

Jeans will take a break till autumn, and your khaki skirt and lightweight cargo pants have been recalled to active duty.

Your skin – with such clear evidence of decades under the fierce African sun – soaks up the gathering moisture in the air and glows with an inner light that no woman of your age should, in all fairness, claim. It has nothing to do with skin or age, of course, and everything to do with beingatpeacedness. It will last until winter, and then you'll look your true age again, so don't gloat.

Umayabashi

Komagatabashi

I don't know whether this is just branding or a real floating Tully's. Does anybody know?

Laundry dries within an hour. That, too, won't last, because rainy season is around the corner: a month of non-stop rain that brings mould to bathrooms and wet sheets draped over your sofa. Tokyo doesn't believe in tumble dryers and doesn't need them either, except in this month of glorious, blessed, sublime rain that whispers against your body.

The city is already experiencing an overture to rainy season, with intermittent showers and high humidity.

Overweight men steam in trains and mop their faces; skinny women cover their faces with sun visors and arms with long black gloves.

You? You drink in the sunlight, and enjoy walking through this city of your heart in blazing sunlight or in night air as soft as rose petals.

You stand on the banks of the Sumida, pick a dandelion and blow its seeds across the wide river; and for a moment, a brief breathless pause, you wish that you could dance along on the trade winds, wherever they carry you, and answer the call of the far horizon. Then you look at your city, listen to the silent river and smile at the sun. Here you are, where you ought to be, for now.

It's summer.

Komagatabashi

Notes

1) I took these photos during a recent walk next to the Sumida River. The writing is just an excuse to publish Sky Tree photos.

2) Let me state for the record that I am fully aware of the damage that sunlight can do to your skin, especially if you're not used to sunlight or have reddish hair and/or a very fair skin. Yoo-hoo. Guess who has reddish hair? I'm against parasols because too many parasolling women have appalling manners, and they insist on carrying a parasol when it's 20 degrees, cloudy and 6 pm. Please. Also, the fact that women in Japan flounce around with frilly parasols is, to me, a metaphor of everything that's wrong with gender issues in this country, and when I say everything, I really mean that everything is wrong. There's a reason why Japan is 105th out of 136 countries in the Global Gender Gap ReportJa ja ja, I know it's not the parasols' fault, but it's symbolic to me.

3) Read more about the Sumidagawa's bridges here and here

I love the curves of Komagatabashi. Read more about the Sumida's bridges here.



Construction work with cute drawings. Welcome to Japan.


Umayabashi looks like a giant sea serpent from this angle ...

Right next to Umayabashi, under the highway, a small temple. Welcome to Japan.

Horses on Umayabashi

Cool, dude! 

Hazy early-morning sky. It's summer.

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