As a long tradition during the hot and humid summer in Japan, many people send a shochu mimai, or summer greeting card or letter, to family members and friends whom they have not seen for a while or to people whom they want to show their appreciation. On the card, it is customary to include messages concerning recipient's health in surviving summer heat, updating personal events, and thanking the recipient for support in the course of the first half of the year. As e-mails are often chosen as a convenient communication tool today and the tradition of shochu mimai therefore is not as popular as before, it is still appreciated as a great time and opportunity to show one's care for someone important.
The messages do not have to be long but may simply include one or more short phrases such as "Midsummer greetings" or "Have a healthy and safe summer." Postcards with watercolor paintings or seasonal illustrations are often preferred. If you go on a vacation trip, sending a souvenir postcard is another good idea. This summer, introduce your family and friends back home to this seasonal tradition in Japan.
Generally, the appropriate time for sending shochu mimai is considered to be after the end of the rainy season until the first day of fall (by the old calendar), which is approximately from July 20 to August 7. After the beginning of fall until the end of August, you may send a zansho mimai, or late-summer greetings. For a limited time during the season, local post offices carry summer greeting postcards called "kamomeiru," which can be used for either shochu mimai or zansho mimai. Kamomeiru comes with numbers for a prize drawing and are available at post offices and other locations nationwide.
Take this opportunity and write shochu mimai to let people know how you are enjoying summer in Japan.
Japan Post Service Kamomeiru Information (in Japanese only)
Have you ever heard of "Tokyo Water," bottled public drinking water sold in Tokyo by the Bureau of Waterworks of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government?
In Japan, people tend to see water as something unlimitedly available simply by turning a faucet on. At restaurants, a free glass of water is brought to the table even if you don't ask for it. "Tokyo Water" is designed to totally reverse such views among people about public drinking water.
It has been said that water in Tokyo, the capital city of a water-rich country, does not taste as good as in other local regions where nature is better preserved. Many residents in Tokyo attach a water purifier to their faucet, buy bottled mineral water, or avoid using public water for making drinks such as tea or coffee.
To improve its quality and provide safe and tasty drinking water to the citizens of Tokyo, the Bureau of Waterworks has been working on the "Safe and Tasty Water Project" for many years. As a result, the Bureau has successfully produced water that exceeds far beyond the quality standards required by the national government. By introducing the latest technology such as ozonation treatment and biological activated carbon treatment and updating water pipes, the Bureau is now capable of supplying tasty public water that does not contain unpleasant smells or organic matter.
Being proud of its quality and safety, the Bureau now sells public water in plastic bottles. A 500 milliliter bottle is sold for 100 yen and is available at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings and other locations.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Waterworks
"Safe and Tasty Water Project" official website (in Japanese only)
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