Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Japanese Air Con

If I was asked what I did not like about Japan, there is only one thing that comes to my mind. Absolutely everywhere is air conditioned in Japan, except it isn't. Well, not to a comfortable level of coolness. The trains were especially bad, but buses were not too crash hot either. The air con was on, but the thermostats set to a very high temperature. Every so often you would get a deliciously cold breeze from the air con, and then it would cut out.

Those of you who are concerned about the environment may well think this is a good thing. I would argue that what is the point of having air conditioning if it does not make you comfortable? I would rather go without and open a window.

In our hotel in Tokyo we had two air con units. We turned them down to a considerably lower level than they were set on and we were comfortable. Not so in Hirosaki. The control unit could not be set lower than 18 and it was just a bit too warm. It was ok if it was on for a good while, but always staff would turn it off when the cleaned the room and so it was never an instant cool relief after coming in from the heat and humidity.

Curiously as we toured the Japanese countryside, even the most modest house had an aircon unit but many of the compressors were wrapped up in plastic, presumably to protect them from snow. But it is summer, hot and humid. Why were the air con units still all wrapped up?

Our hotel in Hirosaki had some kind of supplementary heating for winter and many places seemed to as well. I understand kerosene is a popular heating fuel. So the air con is not so much used for heating. Well, the exterior compressor part would disappear under snow perhaps. Actually, that is why they all elevated off the ground. Just got that.

With a clue from V and some research, the lack of cooling in Japan can be dated back to 2005 and the Cool Biz campaign for summer followed by a Warm Biz campaign in winter. From what I can see, thermostats are set to absurd levels, such as 28 deg in summer. This piece titled 'Cool Biz' Leaves Japan's Workers Sweltering, May Hurt the Economy is from bloomberg.com


  1. ooh that sounds annoying!
    I saw a beautiful German movie about a dying guy that goes to Japan, it was called Cherry Blossoms. They had amazing shots of the blossom, but the footage of the city was eye opening. All this Japan stuff makes me wanna travel again!

  2. Pretty nice place Fen. I forget the struggles at times and remember it well.