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Friday, December 22, 2006

Kerosene 灯油

Ah, the sweet smell of a kerosene heater. Some may find it smelly, but to me it's very 懐かしい. Coming home from work this evening and stepping inside the apartment was like stepping back in time. One of the things we had sent to Taiwan from Yokkaichi was our kerosene heater, which had kept us nice and warm through a typically cold Japanese winter. However, due to Taiwan's subtropical climate and relative scarcity of kerosene, the heater remained unpacked until now. With the addition of Amber to our family and the consequent need to keep her warm, Pamela did some searching and found the local gas station sells kerosene (at a price relatively more expensive than in Yokkaichi, however). And so, for a brief moment tonight, I was transported back to Japan...

For me, the smell of kerosene will always be associated the Land of the Rising Sun. My first visit to Japan was in late January of 1989, and the ryokan 旅館 where I stayed in Tamachi 田町 upon arrival in Tokyo used a kerosene heater to keep my room warm. Thus did "toyu" 灯油 become the smell of Japan for me. Subsequent travels during Japanese winters, not to mention visits to homes in Gumma 群馬 and Nagano 長野 during the cold months, further reinforced the connection. A kerosene heater may not be a necessity during the short winter season here in Taiwan, but for this misplaced 外人 it's like seeing an old friend again.

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