It’s that time of year again! The temperature is rising, along with the humidity, and despite all our best efforts to stay cool, by the end of the day many of us just want to soak in an ice cold bath! Japan is famous for it’s long, humid summers and lack of central air conditioning. So what can one do to keep cool? Well never fear my friend, for Taiken Japan is here with all the tips and tricks you’ll need to avoid melting like a Gari Gari Kun popsicle!
First things first. Go to your nearest Uniqlo or GU and stock up on some Airism! The last thing you will feel like doing is putting on a fitted tank top under your clothes but it really makes a difference. You will likely find yourself sweating a lot more than you are used to thanks to the humidity. You will be thankful for an undershirt that helps hide it! Uniqlo also offers Airism sweaters, shirts and pants. These are especially helpful for work as they are made from light materials but are still professional and appropriate for the workplace. Take advantage of “cool biz”!
You might notice that many people in Japan carry around small hand towels. This is often attributed to the lack of paper towels in public washrooms. However in the summer, the hand towel serves another necessary function. Wiping away sweat! A hand towel is perfect for when your forehead and neck are drenched in sweat. Nothing is worse than being in public and feeling like a mess because you are sweating and dripping from the heat. A quick wipe with your hand towel and you’re back to feeling put together! Many stores in Japan sell cute hand towels at affordable prices, even at Daiso and the 300 yen store! So stock up on a few!
Cooling Wipes and Oil Blotting Sheets
Gatsby sells cooling wipes that clean away sweat and dirt and also give an instant icy-cool refreshing feel! The sheets contain antiperspirant and deodorant ingredients, which can help prevent body odor! They offer many different scents such as “Icey”, “Fruity” and “Citrus”. Other companies provide these sheets as well, such as Bioré and they offer different scents than Gatsby. Oil Blotting sheets remove oil from your face, helping to get rid of that awful sticky feeling, leaving you feeling refreshed! As with the cooling wipes, not only Gatsby offers these sheets. Countless companies sell them. They can be found at Don Quijote, any beauty store or for 100 yen at Daiso!
Daiso also sells fans to help keep you cool in the summer! You can choose between a traditional fold up fan, an uchiwa, or a mini electric fan. These are an affordable and convenient way to keep cool! When you are waiting at the train station it’s nice to be able to fan yourself a bit to relieve yourself from the heavy humidity. If your school or workplace doesn’t favour strong air conditioning, having a little fan to use or to keep on your desk can be a saviour for those extra hot and humid days!
Refreshing Face Spray
After a cold winter the warmth and heat is a nice relief. The shining sun is so inviting it is hard to not want to go outside, explore and have fun! But the humidity can also make you sleepy! Sometimes all you need to wake up is a little mist! This is when a face spray can come in handy! Companies that offer face mists include Tony Moly, Evian, Clinique, Avene and Lush, just to name a few. There are also recipes online for homemade face spray! Not only does it help refresh and cool you down, it is also good for your skin!
Japan offers many different types of deodorant from spray to roll on. Deodorant helps control sweat and keep your skin fresh! It protects skin and maintains dryness. There are many scents offered as well as unscented. Deodorant is an easy and effective way to prevent odor and wetness! A popular Japanese brand for women is Soft Stone by DeoNatulle. Clinique also offers an antiperspirant and deodorant roll on. For men the popular choices are 8x4 Men Roll On and Gatsby Biocore Deodorant Cream. It is also possible to find western brands in Japan and of course you can easily find them online.
The Japanese summer sun is very hot and very strong! To avoid getting sun- burn, sunblock is essential! Once summer rolls around almost every drug store, department store and even the convenience store will sell bottles of sunblock! Japan uses SPF to measure protection against UVB rays and offer various levels of strength. For UVA rays Japan uses PA with a plus (+) sign to indicate it’s strength. More pluses, more protection! For an ideal protection, look for a bottle with PA++.
Parasols/UV Resistant Umbrellas
Many Japanese will carry around UV resistant parasols or umbrellas in the summer. At first this might seem strange, and are only for those concerned with tanning and/or burning. However using a parasol can be very helpful for keeping cool! When you don’t have shade from a tree to give you a break from the sun, shade from a parasol does the trick! Many department stores will sell these parasols. There are also umbrellas that double for sunshine and rain. This is also convenient for the rainy season in June!
Don’t Crank that AC!
As much as you may be tempted to, don’t crank that AC! It will make the heat more unbearable when it finally comes time to venture outside. It is important to let your body adjust and adapt to the humidity and heat. Not only that, you will save money on bills!
Check your area for beaches! There is nothing like a dip in the water to cool you down and it's also fun! If there are no beaches near you, look for a pool! Most communities have a pool where you can spend a day off and enjoy the summer weather without dying from humidity. Plan a beach or pool day with your friends and make some unforgettable, cool memories!
Fruits and Veggies and Popsicles!
The heat and humidity can often lead to a decrease in one’s appetite. It is too hot to cook, too hot to eat. But it is important to eat regular meals! It doesn’t have to be a struggle. There are plenty of summer dishes that can help cool you down! Make cold soups, cold soba, cold edamame, and other cold salads/dishes. Cooling fruits and veggies include cilantro, melon, cucumber, watermelon, and pineapple, basically seasonal produce. Don’t shy away from spicy foods! Spicy foods are good for you and can actually help cool you down! Popsicles are also a good (and delicious!) way to cool down. Gari Gari Kun is a classic and comes in many flavours.
Most importantly – stay hydrated! Make cold teas, drink Pocari Sweat (55kcal per 500ml bottle), Aquarius (even fewer) and of course drink water! Our bodies lose more water when the weather is hot so it is crucial to make sure you’re drinking enough during the summer, even if you don’t “feel” thirsty. Our thirst sensors may not be sensitive enough to let us know that our body needs something to drink in that moment. Rather, our sensors let us know we need water when our body’s normal process is disturbed. By then we might already be feeling faint, or have a headache. Keep in mind that if you are drinking ice coffee or ice tea that contains caffeine, caffeine can act as a diuretic and cause your body to actually lose water content. Luckily Japan has many convenience stores and vending machines everywhere so grabbing a drink isn’t difficult! It is also good to carry around a bottle of water from home. Adding fruit to your water, such as slices of lemon, cucumber, strawberries or even mint helps make water extra tasty! Hydration and water is important for temperature regulation and for overall health. The ideal amount is about 2 litres per day so don't forget to drink up!
Combine It All
Find a small pouch that can fit in your everyday purse or bag and dedicate it to being your “Summer Kit”. Fill it with anything you need to keep yourself cool. A face towel to wipe away sweat, cooling wipes, oil blotting sheets, mini hairbrush, a bottle of face mist and tissues. You can even throw in deodorant! Bring this kit with you everywhere! No matter what the summer weather throws at you, you will be prepared! And because it's in its own pouch it's easy when you switch bags or purses!
There you have it! Tried and tested ways to beat the Japanese summer! Was there something not included in this list that helps you beat the humidity? Let us know in the comments section!