8 Simple Tips to Keep Cool in the Japanese Summer
Each change of the season in Japan brings with it its own beauty and wonders, as well as its own set of challenges. None is quite so challenging however as summer. While the temperatures during this time of year may not seem unbearable on paper, the accompanying humidity can make day to day life in Japan a struggle for both tourists and locals alike. Here are eight clever ways to keep cool during your summer holiday.
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A familiar sight to those who appreciate Japanese media and culture, the uchiwa is an integral part of Japanese summer traditions. These lightweight fans are made of bamboo and paper, and are often ornately decorated with summer imagery. Commonly seen at festivals throughout the country, its light frame and large surface area make the uchiwa as practical as it is fashionable. For extreme heat, a variation of this traditional fan, known as a mizu uchiwa, can be dipped in water before using to help create an even cooler breeze. When it comes to keeping cool and eco-friendly in Japan, the uchiwa can’t be beat.
Anyone who has ever eaten a peppermint candy or used mint mouthwash is familiar with the icy-cold sensation it causes in your mouth. Now, imagine being able to feel that cooling sensation all over your body on a hot summer day. Thankfully, there is an invaluable (yet inexpensive) Japanese product that can do exactly that. Menthol wipes can be found at convenience stores throughout the country and are a quick way to beat the heat and clinging humidity.
The wipes typically come in either body or face varieties. The body wipes contain more menthol and might be too intense for facial use, so be sure to check the packaging carefully. Keep a pack of these wipes in your bag to stay cool and dry on the go.
When the summer heat is at its peak, it can be hard to find clothes that are both stylish and manage to keep you cool. Thankfully, Japan has a solution for this. Similar to the menthol wipes mentioned above, cool spray is another quick and easy method for relief from the summer heat. Unlike the wipes however, most of these sprays are designed to be sprayed onto your clothing, instantly creating a cool and breezy sensation.
The name might sound like a bit of an oxymoron, but salt candy is the easiest way to avoid the ill effects of summer in Japan. With the ever-present heat and humidity, sweating will become an unavoidable part of your daily routine. Since water alone is not enough to rehydrate you, salt candies are a quick way to replace your body's lost electrolytes and avoid the symptoms of dehydration.
While most people get enough electrolytes from their regular diet, a busy schedule of sightseeing in Japan may not allow for frequent breaks. Luckily, salt candies are easy to keep on hand no matter what you are doing. They are available in many different flavors (typically fruit varieties) and thankfully taste much better than the name would imply.
One of the easiest ways to beat the summer humidity is to ensure proper airflow. While this can be quickly solved with an open window and a well-placed fan, it also leaves you wide open to something even worse than humidity: mosquitoes. Rather than choosing to suffer with the heat or the insects, you can have the best of both worlds with a Japanese invention known as mosquito coils. Made with a natural extract from chrysanthemum flowers, these circular incense sticks burn slowly over the course of seven to eight hours, all the while repelling the blood-thirsty pests.
This ingenious Japanese invention will keep you cool while exploring Japan's many outdoor attractions. Dubbed the "fanbrella", this battery powered umbrella has not only a mounted fan at the top, but the option to attach a water bottle to the handle to disperse a gentle mist at the touch of a button as well. It's a brilliant way to prevent sunburn and beat the humidity this summer.
It wouldn't be summer in Japan without a heaping bowl of kakigori. This quintessential Japanese treat is similar to the shaved ice that many of us grew up with, but with a far fluffier texture that feels as nice as it tastes. Topped off with flavored syrup, fruits, and other various toppings of your choosing, it's easy to see why kakigori is a must-have for Japanese locals at festivals throughout the summer.
During Japan's Edo Period when air conditioning and electric fans were still a distant dream, people turned to simpler methods to keep cool. One such way was by watching colorful koi swim about in ponds or lakes. Though it may not seem like much, the peaceful scene and the sound of gently flowing water was enough to transport them away to somewhere cooler in their minds. That’s not to say that koi viewing is without its physical benefits as well. When air blows across water, it tends to cool down a bit, resulting in a refreshing breeze. This traditional pastime can still be enjoyed today at parks and gardens throughout Japan.
Sure, summer may not be the easiest time to visit Japan, but it's no reason to postpone your visit. With a few minor preparations, you'll be ready to overcome the rising temperatures and enjoy the festivals, culture, and food that define the Japanese summer.
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.