Old men in the summer

As the weather starts to warm up, I start thinking about underwear. Particular underwear that ojīsan wore. When I landed in Kyoto for my second stay, it was hachigatsu of 1978. Hot and humid, as expected. And there seemed to be more fans than air conditioners. Doors and mado were open and when the evening came, many old men came out to sit in front of their shops after being indoors during the heat of the day.

And I remember walking past this one Chinese restaurant. The old man there would pull out a small stool and sit there in his ragged white drawers and undershirt, fanning himself with an uchiwa. It became a common site for me.

And darn, English Google! It seems to think that momohiki are a fashionable type of trousers. Maybe that wasn’t the word for them. More googling and I’m trying suteteko. Nope. I’m laughing. How our world does change! I need to try this search in Japanese. Okay… not much better at all. I add the word Showa to my search to give it a time period to try.

So that’s how hard it was for me to find shashin to show you.

This was what I always saw my giri otōsan wear on summer evenings in Fukui. And when he retired, it would be a summer day-wear for him, too. They seemed very comfortable and suzushī.

I wonder if old men in the rural areas of Japan are still wearing these. I bet they are….One of the less romantic signs of summer, but still… works for me!

But I’m weird that way!

  • ojīsan – お爺さん old man or grandfather
  • hachigatsu – 8月 August
  • mado – 窓 window
  • uchiwa – うちわ hand -held fan
  • momohiki – ももひき a kind of underwear
  • suteteko – ステテコ another kind of underwear
  • Showa – 昭和 era from 1926-1989. Most people are nostalgic about the last forty years of it, though those war years are not to be forgotten.
  • shashin – 写真 photograph(s)
  • giri otōsan – 義理お父さん father-in-law
  • suzushī – 涼しい cool. Note that there is a different word for cool to the touch or cool as in stand-offish. Suzushī is used for weather situations.