Thermometers across Japan have been breaking 100 degrees Fahrenheit (39 Celsius) all weekend and the high temperatures are not expected to drop before the O-Bon (お盆) holidays later this week. Tokyo topped 104 degrees, sending nearly 80 people to hospitals for treatment of heat stroke. At least four deaths were reported in the city and nine across the country.
The three day O-Bon summer festival, a Buddhist custom honoring the spirits of family ancestors, sees throngs of people leave the metropolises of Tokyo and Osaka to return to their hometowns to visit and clean their ancestors’ graves. Since temperatures in 39 of the 47 prefectures are expected to break 35 degrees this week, with heat warnings in 38, an escape from the city may not offer much relief.
The Japanese Meteorological Agency is urging citizens to keep hydrated and use air conditioning if available.