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Saturday, July 29, 2006

JAPAN LITE

The secret to stomping the rainy season


It has been a long rainy season, with destruction from landslides and floods. But we don't worry about those things on the island. Because living on an island, we're used to having lots of water around. Thirty cm of rain here is just another drop of water in the sea.

News photo
Teru-teru bouzu, hung outside houses to ward of rain, are sleeping on the job this year.

No, what we worry about is our toilets overflowing. You see, most people on the island still have pit toilets in their houses. Each house has a large hole on the outside from which the toilet can be emptied by specially qualified men in jumpsuits, who come around wrestling large hoses attached to a truck with a holding tank. They suck the demons out of the toilet. The problem is, when it rains really hard, the hole gets filled with rain water, which means the toilet level can rise uncomfortably high. So while much of Japan has landslide warnings, we have toilet warnings. Should many toilets on the island overflow at the same time, we'd have to call in the Toilet National Guard.

The only other thing we worry about here is typhoons and becoming the next Atlantis. If someday divers found our island under the sea, they'd say: "Boy were they dumb! Trying to drive cars down here."

But many people are still asking: what's with all the rain this year? The answer is obvious: The "teru-teru bouzu" are not doing their job. Teru-teru bouzu are dolls made out of tissue paper or paper towels that are hung outside the window of the house to discourage rain from coming. Why paper would be considered water repellent, I don't know. But it's not surprising the rain is not scared away by soaked paper towels with smiles on their faces. Large umbrellas wielded by "o-baa-chans" would be more effective.

While farmers may pray to the water god Suijin to bring rain, there is no god to pray to when you want the rain to stop. And these days, fewer people make teru-teru bouzu, meaning the dolls have to work twice as hard, since there are fewer of them.

As a result, we must either suffer through the rainy season or (gasp!) enjoy it. There is a well-kept secret on how to enjoy rainy seasons, which seems to have been left behind when all the young folk moved to Japan's cities. This secret is so powerful that once you know it, you'll be able to enjoy every rainy season to come. Want to know the secret? "Nagagutsu"!

The Japanese have forgotten that the intolerability of the rainy season lies largely in their footwear. People in the countryside know that nagagutsu, rubber boots that go halfway up the calf, are the secret to splashing through any rainy season.

Imagine no more walking down the street huddled under umbrellas, no more jumping across newly formed rivers and gutters. Instead, wade right through in your nagagutsu!

Women, say goodbye to tiptoeing around puddles in your pumps. Say sayonara to socks stained blue from wet leather shoes. Move over Prada and XTC, here come nagagutsu! Impenetrable fashion from the tip of your toes to the knee, your dry toes will wiggle with glee!

Once everyone knows the secret, even the stiletto heel will be booted out by nagagutsu. Because nagagutsu give you power. You can go fishing in the rain, frog hunting in swamps, and sloshing around among leeches in rain forests.

So don't let the rainy season get you down. Take control of your foot life. Put an end to soggy toes and puddle woes, wet shoes and smelly toes. Get yourself some nagagutsu!

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