Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's Nose Blowin' Time Again...

Ah...spring is bursting out all over!

Temperatures are coming up, coats and hats are coming off, green leaves and flowers are coming out, and the sugi (Japanese cedars, though they aren't really cedars) are turning brown.

Everything is wonderful except that last tidbit. When the sugi turn brown, it means they are locked and loaded, ready to unleash their withering barrage of pollen on the general public. You see, cedar pollen is a natural WMS (Weapon of Mass Sneezing). It is a potent allergen, and there is a very good chance that, if you are not sensitive to it from the beginning, you will be in a matter of years.

I was immune for the first ten years I lived in these islands. My eyes and sinuses are grim evidence that I am no longer.

A replanted sugi forest near Kyoto.

The ironic thing is that there are apparently more sugi now than there were before the war. In old times, the tree, widely believed to have originated in China, was often planted around temples, palaces, and important roads, but it wasn't as widespread as it is today. During the militarization efforts of the early 20th century widespread forests of all kinds were clear-cut. Even more were hacked down in the years immediately following the war in order to rebuild devastated cities. Massive replanting efforts were then undertaken, but the focus was put on sugi because of both its commercial value and its rapid rate of growth. As a result, there are now many large stands of sugi that were of different kinds of trees before the war. Needless to say, the hayfever problem in modern Japan is many times worse now than at any other time in history.

I know I feel like shyte right now.

The drugstores aren't complaining. At this time of the year they set up whole aisles of allergy pills, nasal sprays, skin lotions, and pollen masks. Since one type of medicine only tends to be effective for a while before the body builds up a misguided tolerance to it, one often has to experiment with different kinds in order to find one that works. Needless to say, the drug companies make a killing.

Much more benign hinoki.

Unfortunately, the forest around Kashima Shrine is mainly a combination of hinoki (Japanese cypress) and sugi. Both hinoki and sugi are very fragrant (in fact, they are both used for their fragrance), but...since ye olde academy is right next door to and partly surrounded by that forest, I think you can guess how it is here at work. Not even air conditioning helps completely. Wouldn't you know it; our campus is even ringed by a line of gorgeous sugi. I think they did it on purpose just to make us suffer...

Sniff sniff...


  • Actually, I forgot to point out that the government says the sugi pollen count will be down this year, partly because of the weird weather of this past winter and partly because it follows a cycle that peaked last year. Small comfort...

    szenk - A Hungarian saying "five" in French.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 2:31 PM  

  • Hmmm, I think I know how it's like, the mild and brief cases at least. There are days when my nose just feel inchy an no matter how I clean, wipe and blow, I still feel strings and fibers tickling my nose inside out, when my head moves or the wind blows my way. Boy, looks like there's no way to run! Really frustrating.

    By Blogger agus, at 2:44 PM  

  • oh well stop complaining at least winter is over :D:D:D:D damn i hate the cold but im stuck here in canada for 3 more years *sigh*...
    but we had an easy winter this year so YAY

    By Blogger saba, at 2:44 AM  

  • Agus
    Do you have any idea what's causing it? If not, I'd look into it! Allergies really suck...

    I guess you're used to a much warmer climate, aren't you? By the way, are there any pizza parlors in Bahrain? ;-) ;-)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:18 AM  

  • Gesundheit!

    So far I am unaffected. :D

    But poor Momo has a problem with sugi trees and it isn't allergies. The twigs that fall off the trees and dry on the ground catch on her fur during her walks and can get pretty tangled up by the time we get home.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 10:38 AM  

  • Hay fever and sugi pollen.. Yep, I am a victim too.

    Life with anti-histamine is a challenge, the non-drowsy drugs are so expensive and I have to take the drowsy one only at night.

    Wearing a mask should help, since practically half the population put on a face mask in Japan.

    BTW, I have dedicated a post to you.

    By Blogger Robin, at 12:15 PM  

  • Just be glad that you don't have the same allergic reaction to trees I have to cats, or you might well suffocate!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:51 PM  

  • I seem to be repeating my comments.
    'Don't know how that happened.

    Pa've don't mention cat allergies. I get a full blown reaction around them.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 4:00 PM  

  • Allergy…. ÄCK@_@!!

    It is “SUMMER SEASON” makes my face get suffer every year….I really hate it!!!
    My face skin would turn red..Doctor’s advice : “can’t bask too much in the sun”

    By Anonymous l.C_D, at 4:13 PM  

  • Seems to me that only the men are whining - minus Pandabonium that is. Oops!! However, you do have my sympathies. Anti-histamines are good - at least you don't itch too. hahaha......

    MM, interesting that the tree turns brown and for how long will this be?

    By Blogger Happysurfer, at 5:31 PM  

  • Pa've and PandaB
    Cat scratch fever...
    ba da baaa doo doo doo
    Cat scratch fever...
    ba da da baaa

    (Back when Ted Nugent wasn't quite so inane...)

    Ack...that sounds really nasty!

    The sugi pollen season is usually at its peak during mid to late spring, easing off as we come into summer.

    What's even scarier than brown trees is when a gust of wind blows through a stand of sugi and kicks up a huge, thick, yellow cloud of pollen. It's like, "Close every orifice in your body for the next few minutes!!!"

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:55 PM  

  • I know what you mean, Steve! *wink* *smile* Always keeping it above water, so to speak! *grin*

    By Anonymous Paulo, at 2:53 AM  

  • Thanks for the post, Moody. Fantastic. For a minute I thought I couild swim in those greens. Well, actually, I am :)))

    But everything smells green is alright with me, sugi pollen or not LOL

    By Blogger @ロウ 。LOW@, at 4:06 PM  

  • pizza parlors??? hmmm i suppose :S:S:S and why the hell isnt my blog working !!!!! *melodramatic scream*
    anyways weather here is crappy btw rain!! bad hair days :|

    By Blogger saba, at 5:07 PM  

  • Panda, cat allergies ;)
    Do you get allergies from furry dogs as well? Other fuzzy animals? Like pandas? Ack*....

    By Blogger agus, at 6:03 PM  

  • Paulo

    As someone who has always had a very soft spot for green and growing things, being allergic to them seems like a sick joke played on me by fate, kharma, whatever.

    I remembered reading on your blog something about some clown that asked you if there were pizza restaurants in Bahrain. That's why I asked you that (followed by winks, you'll notice).

    I noticed that your blog is down. That's weird. I wonder whether it's a Blogger-related problem or whether someone hacked your site. (Considering how often Al-Jazeera's English site has been hacked by "red-blooded patriots", you never know. These are sensitive times, and you cover very sensitive topics very loudly...more power to you!)

    I'd go to Blogger dashboard and check your settings. Have a look at the template. If it's blank, you're dead. If someone stuck a line of nonsense in it, you might be able to fix it...or reconfigure it. It might be a good idea to have someone with HTML savvy help you out.

    Fi sahitak!

    Furry things don't bother me (unless they scratch or bite). Beautiful, harmless plants do me wrong.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:24 PM  

  • ALright my blog is up again, and yea some1 messed up the template...but hahahahaha i got it back :D:D:D:D:D

    By Blogger saba, at 5:22 AM  

  • Same here... teary teary... ooohh..

    By Blogger Lrong, at 1:28 PM  

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