Let's discuss the recent heat wave

This week’s featured article


Unseasonably hot conditions gripped wide areas of Japan on Sunday, with the town of Saroma in Hokkaido setting the highest temperature ever recorded in the country for the month of May.

Two men — one in Shimizu, Hokkaido, and the other in Tome, Miyagi Prefecture — died and at least 575 people nationwide were taken to hospitals by ambulance suffering from symptoms that appeared to point to heatstroke, according to data compiled by Kyodo News.

The mercury hit 39.5 degrees Celsius in the northeastern coastal Hokkaido town at 2:07 p.m. Sunday — the hottest at any observation point in Japan for the month, according to the Meteorological Agency. The previous record, set on May 13, 1993, was 37.2 degrees in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture.

Temperatures had never before reached 35 C in Hokkaido in May or 38 C at any time of the year in the prefecture. The previous record high temperature recorded there was 37.8 degrees in the town of Otofuke on June 3, 2014, and in the city of Obihiro on July 12, 1924.

Temperatures climbed to 38.8 degrees in Obihiro and in the town of Ikeda on Sunday. The agency issued high temperature warnings across wide areas, from Hokkaido to the Kinki region, and called for caution against heatstroke.

Hokkaido Railway Co., or JR Hokkaido, canceled the operation of a number of trains, mainly those departing from and arriving at stations in the eastern part of Hokkaido, due to fears of rail distortion by the strong heat wave.

On Sunday, temperatures reached 35.8 degrees in Hatoyama, Saitama Prefecture, 35.7 degrees in Date, Fukushima Prefecture, 35.5 degrees in Daigo, Ibaraki Prefecture, and 35.4 degrees in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, according to the Meteorological Agency. Temperatures rose above 30 degrees also in Chiba, Tottori, Fukuoka and Yamanashi prefectures.

The weather agency expects the unusually hot conditions to continue Monday.

First published in The Japan Times on May 26.

Warm up

One-minute chat about the weather.


Collect words related to the heat: e.g., summer, sweltering, AC, temperature

New words

1) grip: to hold firmly, e.g., “He gripped the steering wheel and turned the car quickly.”

2) mercury: the liquid used in a thermometer, e.g., “The mercury rose suddenly today as temperatures hit a record high.”

Guess the headline

Two die, nearly 600 taken to h_ _ _ _ _ _ _s nationwide as h_ _ _ wave hits parts of nation


1) What happened in Hokkaido according to the article?

2) When was the previous record set for temperatures in May?

3) Did the heat affect any methods of transportation?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What do you think about this record temperature in Hokkaido?

2) What do you do in order to survive the heat?

3) What does society need to do to deal with warmer temperatures?




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