Photo/IllutrationLondon Natsume Soseki Memorial Hall on Sept. 25 (The Asahi Shimbun)

London Natsume Soseki Memorial Hall, a small museum in the U.K. capital commemorating the life and works of novelist Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), who lived there in the early 20th century, closed Sept. 28.

After hearing about this, I reread some of Soseki's work regarding London and saw that he occasionally mentions the city's miserable weather.

"The sky, the color of a stirred-up bucket of lye, hangs low over the Tower (of London)," is one example. Soseki must have seen this famous London landmark against a leaden sky.

A diary entry goes: "The weather is foul and it is snowing, but the locals don't care."

I wonder if the scarcity of sunlight had something to do with Soseki's spells of depression in London.

As I write this, I'm not in London, nor is it winter. But the month of September has been anything but sunny here. In eastern Japan as well as western Japan, the hours of sunlight since mid-September have been less than half of what they should be in any average year, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Tokyo has been so wet or overcast, it feels like the "tsuyu" rainy season. I badly miss sunshine.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression, is a condition caused by insufficient exposure to sunlight from autumn through winter. One of the symptoms is extreme difficulty getting up in the morning, due to the poor functioning of neurotransmitters. I understand that this disorder should not be taken lightly.

When I visited a laundromat in my neighborhood, all the clothes dryers were in use and people were waiting in line for their turn. Vegetable prices are also skyrocketing nationwide due to the unseasonable weather. This is the season of sports days for schoolchildren, but when the sky will finally clear up is anyone's guess.

In London, Soseki eventually stopped attending university lectures and buried himself in books. He was resolved to "take this opportunity to finish as many books as I can read."

Autumn is the season for reading. Perhaps I can stop cursing this miserable weather if I try to think of this as a chance to sit back and do some serious reading.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 29

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.