How to Survive the Japanese Summer

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Summer in Japan is hot, sticky, and almost umbearable.

Last year saw the mercury rise to over 40 degrees – and while there are plenty of places that get hotter – few seem to be stickier. 

With near maximum levels of humidity, simply stepping outside will cause you to break out into a fully-blown sweat. If you have a long commute or walk to your hotel, say hello to the shower the second you get back.

Why is the Japanese Summer so Awful?

There are a lot of reasons why summer in Japan may feel a lot worse than what you’re used to. Here are a few reasons:

1. Lots of walking (tourism, commuting, etc.)

2. Heat island phenomenon (higher temperatures in cities due to human-related factors such as the overuse of air conditioners on a large scale).

3. Hot nights (In mid-summer, Japanese night temperature can be nearly 30 degrees – meaning sweaty beds and hot mornings.

4. High humidity (really high)

How to Prepare for the Heat

Apart from the obvious ways (plenty of water, suncream, and hats), Japan has come up with quite a few handy ways that help us battle on through the day.

Cool sheets/wipes (bought at most 100-yen stores, these body wipes give your skin a cool sensation)

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Cooling body wash (similar to above, makes your skin feel cool for 20-minutes after the shower)

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Cool Technology – “Cool tech” is the opposite of “heat tech” – a design in clothes and bedding that help keep your body cool and often has a “hinyari” texture.

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Ice blocks – put them in your freezer, get them out when you’re too hot or when you go to sleep. (Also available at most 100-yen stores.)

Hand fans (uchiwa, sensu) – A traditional one, but helpful nonetheless. (Also available at most 100-yen stores.)

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Sports drinks – cheap 2l bottles of sports drinks can be bought in most supermarkets at a decent price. Of course, there are more expensive ones such as Sweat (yup).

Parasol (higasa) – the parasol is back, and not only for women! Japan is trying to push the use of the parasol on men too (by coining the phrase “bidanshi” [parasol gentleman]). And if you’re really cool, you’ll get the hat version.

In Summary

In summery, the summery Japan can be summed up into this:

It’s hot (maybe not as hot as some places), but high humidity and hot nights don’t let up – so it’s best to prepare with a few cooling products.