Photo/Illutration A woman wearing a face mask as protection against the new coronavirus outbreak, takes a stroll in a park in Yokohama, near Tokyo, on April 29. (AP Photo)

When the weather progresses from mild to warm, it's time to switch to short-sleeved tops.

I've been doing this every year as a matter of routine, but it still lifts my mood every season. Perhaps that's because I literally feel the seasonal transition on my skin.

A haiku by Ayako Hosomi (1907-1997) goes to the effect, "The cloud in the sky is delightful to watch/ When I'm dressed light."

True, when I am bundled up in a heavy winter coat, my mood is definitely different from when I am wearing something light and airy, even if the clouds in the sky look fairly similar on both occasions.

The Japanese expression "hakusho," which translates literally as "light heat," is sometimes used to denote early summer. 

The air feels pleasantly refreshing on the threshold of summer.

In many parts of the nation, the mercury rose to 25 degrees or above on May 1. In a normal year, TV news would have shown footage of children frolicking in water. But that was not the case this year, and it saddened me somewhat.

In fact, I almost felt like grousing: "What a perfect day. And what a waste."

But I shouldn't. It wasn't the weather's fault for being so gorgeous.

One of the reasons the sky looks beautiful in early summer may owe to the contours of trees sprouting vivid green leaves.

Bon Shinohara (1910-1975) penned this haiku: "Countless skies are humming/ Through cherry trees that are now leafing."

Cherry trees lose the admiration of viewers once the blossoms are over and replaced by leaves. But in the poet's perception, that's when the trees exhibit their true strength.

Beautiful as it is, May is also the month when people should start watching out for heatstroke. According to an association of doctors who specialize in the condition, wearing a face mask raises the risk of overheating.

The doctors also warn that the body's ability to retain water deteriorates with muscle loss, which can result from not getting enough exercise while self-isolating because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It appears that this summer, the importance of remaining hydrated will be greater than ever.

While adjusting our wardrobe to the air temperature felt on the skin, we also need to be extra-mindful of what we put on every day.        

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 2

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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.