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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Natsubate - summer exhaustion


Goya gourd. Photo by Dalgial

Summer in Japan is characterized by festivals, fireworks displays, and the wearing of the traditional yukata. However, on the flip side, being as hot and humid as it is, summer is also known as a season of fatigue.

If you’re a regular at a gym in Japan you will notice how it seems to empty out a little in July and August. The atmosphere inside the typical Japanese office is slightly oppressed in summer, with people taking more random days off work, and harried faces more the norm than in the cooler months. Look out from your balcony over the neighborhood on an early summer morning, and notice how bereft of the usual joggers the paths are.

A common word in Japanese for this state of summer lethary is natsubate (nah-tsu-bah-the), the natsu meaning summer, and the bate being a modified form of the verb hateru, meaning to be exhausted.

To make a verb of it: natsubate suru.

A commonly believed antidote to natsubate is the eating of the bitter gourd known as the goya (momordica charantia).

Natsubate o shitara goya o tabeyo!
If you’re feeling overcome by the summer heat, eat goya!

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