December 14, 2007

Changing of the Appliances

It is mid-December here in Hiroshima, when autumn leaves have left the tree branches, baseball season is decidedly over and the sting of oncoming winter is acute at night and early morning. It's basically pretty damn bleak, and without the brief uplift in one's spirits that accompanies the first snowfall.

The annual Changing of the Appliances tradition also marks this time of year. It's an ancient Japanese custom that stretches back to the Gasheeter Era of Emperor Needmorecloze. Since I have been resident in Hiroshima for over a decade now, I have acclimated to local conditions and customs in order to fit in…well, as much as I can. The electric and kerosene heaters are now out, cleaned and made ready for action.
Za Electric Heater a.k.a. "Yen Eater"

Please bear in mind that most houses in Japan do not have central heating. Instead, gas, oil and electric heaters and air conditioners are used to heat single rooms. This makes it a little more challenging to keep a consistent room temperature throughout our apartment. It also adds a challenging element to make the whole place safe from Lady E.

Za Kerosene Heater --"Mr. Stinky"

I also got a nasty surprise the other day…we got a visit from a nice lady from the power company, who inquired as to why our electricity use seemed high. I’ve been using the electric heater more than usual this year because it has less residual smell than the kerosene one. But, we got a 20,000 yen (about $200) bill for one month of electricity use—about four times the usual.
...We are using the kerosene heater more now.

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