Staying warm...

Its freezing...im from one of the coldest places in the US where the average temp falls about 30 degrees F lower than the coldest day in Saga..but last winter in Japan was the coldest I have ever been...I know the 2nd and 3rd years have probably mastered how to conquer Samui Saga, but for all you 1st years, i hope some of these suggestions help you out..Because when we say its gonna be a cold one, you have NO idea...

so here are some tips that helped me stay warm last winter.

1) LAYERS:
Long underwear is COOL....Invest in good long underwear...you will need it...pants and undershirts...I had my dad send over all my ski stuff and it became my best friend.Go to Uniqlo and buy lots of their long sleeve layer tshirts. they are perfect to wear over the long underwear and under your sweaters and jackets...buy a few and layer...Make sure you have lots of heavy wool sweaters...and dont get them too small bc you have to have layers. Pants: Long underwear(either 1 or 2 pairs at once) then your pants(trousers for you brits)....socks: I wear 2 or 3 pairs to school...your feet can never be too warm.

Layers are key...The NAN MAI game is always a fun game to play....its very easy...you ask a kid in the class, nan mai! when they ask how many what? you say...layers! They count...they always try to beat me but always fail...bc Erin sensei is always freezing and wearing layers layers layers.

You may think that wearing 2 pairs of socks, 2 pants, and 5 shirts is a little extreme...but just wait til you have to ride your bike 30 min, get to your Junior high school, and teach 6 classes, all without heaters...you will soon realize that it is colder inside than outside and you are literally still frozen from head to toe...trust me...all of you will probably experiece this..unless you are lucky enough to have heaters at school! (On a side note, I am very excited this year....I have 8 schools, and 7 have heaters in every classroom! thank god for teaching elementary school this year! All my prayers from last winter were answered minus my MONDAYS...gaman suru)

2) HEATERS: I hear those scary 1960 gas heaters work pretty well for heating up a room quickly..however if you have asthma like me, you can be in the room for about 10 minutes before you are in big trouble,...Im not a big fan of gas poisoning so i go with the electric heaters. ya my electric bill is more expesive but its worth it to me...I bought a halogen spot heating fan at jusco last yr...The sun now rises inside my house bc its the brightest thing in the world and I even resort to wearing sunglasses but it keeps me really warm! if i dont move...the air con is good too..takes a while to heat up the room but my house is so small i can close the door to the kitchen and it stays warm...set the timers on the aircon so it turns on 40 min before waking up....getting up in the moring is the worst...its wicked freezing....if you havent set your timer, you cant get out of bed...I dont have a kotatsu but I do like them...although its kinda weird when your legs are burning and your head and hands are frozen solid...but if i had a bigger house Id get one...Hot water bottles(thanks to the brits for introducing them to me) are great too! just boil some water pour it into your fun shaped hot water bottle(I have a frog...got it at bulldog..its wicked awesome!) and you have something to hug and keep you warm when you fall asleep!

3) FUZZY AND ELECTRIC BLANKETS: I received electric blankets from one of my Japanese friends last yr as a gift...it is the greatest thing that ever been given to me,...turn it on about 30 min before getting into bed...your bed is all nice and warm and it helps you fall asleep quickly... Buy the big fuzzy heavy blankets from JUSCO...they are great to put on top of the electric blankets.. i have 2...and 2 duvets, so ya...i have 5 blankets on my bed...you can never have too much...

4) TOLIET SEAT COVERS AND MATS: getting to the Bathroom sucks...its so cold in your kitchen....the last thing you want is cold feet and a cold ass...enough said,...Showering sucks bigtime, esp for girls bc your hair never dries...run from your shower to your bedroom and change in record time...youll become a pro!

5) GET A HOBBY: the less time you spend in your house the easier the winter will be...I found that I became very lazy bc all i wanted to do was cuddle in bed and go to sleep...if you are not at home, you wont realize how cold is really is as much**(but dont stay at school..bc its freezing there too) dont let yourself get down bc its REALLY easy to get down in the winter here...

6) CAMBELLS CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP and COCOA: Cooking in the winter sucks bc your kitchen is so cold. get soup from costco and warm it up...with a cup of cocoa its sooo delicious and warms you up!

7) GLOVES AND HAT AND JACKET: wear them all the time...to bed, to school, to soccer practice,....never take them off...

IF YOU DO ALL OF THESE THIGNS LISTED ABOVE....YOU WILL STILL BE FREEZING ALL THE TIME...you get a chill that just never goes away...I hate Japanese winters....esp since it doesnt ever snow in Karatsu....if it snowed i think it would be ok...but the bitter cold is just too much...BUT BY LAYERING UP AND STAYING WARM YOU CAN GET BY! I know it probably sounds like im exaggerating...but really...im not! it will be cold so just do all you can to fight it!

If you have any other suggestions of how to stay warm, please let me know!...Even with all these things im still always cold...

Im looking forward to heading back to MASS to below zero weather, cuddle up with my dog by the warm fireplace, listening to xmas carols, reading a book, while eating moms mac and cheese and sipping hot cocoa.. oh man..HOME SWEET HOME soo soon! and i apologize for my terrible grammar and spelling...im on a 2 yr mind hiatus from academia and being in japan has helped that cause a lot...just hope I get it all back before starting up school again next Fall)

Good luck, stay warm, Happy Winter.