01 February, 2016

Long johns

Have you ever worn long johns? I hadn't, not before I came to live in Japan. Now they are my daily companion throughout most of December  and usually into March.

You can see in the photo how I survive winter in a non-centrally heated and poorly insulated Japanese house. Layering! Two pairs of socks, ugg boots, two layers on my legs (the black is the long johns). My boys are bemused, but I don't care. I do what I've got to do.

My first encounter with long johns was a surprise. We were visiting a potential supporting church in Canberra, Australia during winter in 2000, this was before we'd left for Japan or even been given permission to go. We had a young toddler at the time and were only just keeping things together as we did this travelling circus called deputation. 

A lady I'd never met grabbed me after church and asked me if I had long johns. I'm from Queensland, I'm not sure if I'd even seen long johns before. She said, "Let me buy you some." What?!? 

A stranger buying me long underwear . . . it was out of my comfort zone. But at the time we had no regular income so I wasn't about to say no to someone willing to buy me something I supposed I might need if I was going to study Japanese in a city where they have snow on the ground for almost half a year.

So we walked to a nearby shop and she bought me my first pair of long johns. We landed in Sapporo in December that year where temperatures dipped well below zero at night and barely made it above zero during the day. I was so glad of that spontaneous gift (it must have been spontaneous, surely, I really can't remember much about it).

Recently I discovered Heat Tech, a brand of winter clothing developed in Japan by UniQlo, an affordable clothing store here. It's great: not bulky, feels stylish, great colours (I have a teal shirt that could be under or over-wear) and dries quickly (definitely an issue on a cold, wet winter's day). The long johns don't look like underwear at all, more like tights or leggings. This season I've also bought a couple of their shirts and I'm tempted to buy socks too, but I already have a lot of socks in my wardrobe, so I think I'll wait.

Here's a short article about Heat Tech (please note there is a little bit of language you might find offensive), about how it was developed and what it's made of.

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