I went swimming on Wednesday. I have no idea how they keep the big glass-walled pool area warm enough for me and the entire winter-swim-school to run around half-naked and not die, but they do.
There's a certain freedom in wearing less clothes, and in not having to sort of huddle or hunch to be warm. The freedom of motion available in the water is even greater than normal since you don't have to worry as much about things like gravity.
Now all I have to worry about it that I don't actually know how to swim any strokes; I'm just faking it. But I did a few laps, and when I left the place I felt warmer, even though it had gotten dark and my hair was wet. There's an inner warmth that allows you to be careless (at least for a little while) of how high your socks are pulled up or whether your scarf is wrapped around you, without which warmth it sometimes doesn't even matter how bundled you are because you won't feel warm. It's like being on the run, or playing defensive chess. Working with the negative (try not to be cold) instead of the positive (try to be.. something else?).
Mostly, I think it has to do with whether you get to move your muscles and stretch your joints. Shit gets brittle in the cold. I've seen more plastic break in the last week than since I've been here. But the sauna was pretty awesome, too. 90C is really, really hot.
So I'm going to try to get in there on a fairly regular basis, and see if I can manage a bus schedule in the mix. I was able to go easily on Wednesday because I had to bring my car to school, so the lease office guy could come get it from me and change the tires, the oil, add steering fluid, install a CD player, etc. Lots of things to make my life better.
Thursday morning, I woke up with the impression that a warm front must have moved in overnight. But actually, what had happened was, it got even colder, and snowed.
I got sent home early that day because all the other teachers had some kind of meeting in Yamasaki, so I went out for tea with The Other Georgian.
I decided I actually do like Japan after all.