5 ways to survive summer in Japan
Keep your cool
With temperatures approaching 40°C/104°F in the sun and over 80% humidity, Japanese summer can be difficult when you're faced with it for the first time. To avoid sunstroke and other maladies, here are five tips for spending as "refreshing" a summer as possible in Japan!
Surviving a Japanese summer
1. Stay hydrated
While bottled water is probably your best friend this season, you should know that Japanese drug stores also have other drinks on offer.
You'll see drinks labeled "FOSHU" (Food for Specified Health Use), which contain ingredients with functions for health, and are officially approved to have beneficial effects on the human body while not being considered "drugs".
Among them you'll find mineral enriched waters and energy drinks, which help to hydrate the body and combat the heat during the summer.
See: Summer in Japan
We recommend: Pocari Sweat and Karada Shinto; these drinks are particularly suitable for combatting fatigue or anemia in summer.
2. Stay fresh on-the-go
Fragrant and easy to carry with you, fresh wipes are definitely a must-have during the Japanese summer.
They can be used when and wherever, be it for hiking or in the office, and their refreshing agent is great for helping to regulate your body temperature while waiting for the blessed relief of a cold shower!
We recommend: the perfumed wipes by brand Bioré, found in any good drug-store or konbini - they definitely work wonders. Especially their cooling -3°C version, that has been selling well for 2 years on the archipelago.
3. Protect yourself from the sun
Beloved by (mostly older) ladies not wanting to tan in a country where pale skin is often considered most beautiful, sun visors and long cotton gloves are a common sight on a sunny summer day in Japan, and are certainly a good way to protect your skin from the hot sun.
However, if this - admittedly very Japanese - look is not to your taste, remember that sunscreen is a great option to avoid turning into a lobster during the summer.
And Japan has plenty of sunscreens and other skin care products with sun protection!
We recommend: anything from Nivea to Bioré, via Kosé or Anessa, many factor 50+ sunscreens are sold in drug stores in the country. You'll also often find lip balms and BB creams that are also enriched with anti-UV agents.
4. Use a fan
Whether in a restaurant, konbini, or even on the train, the Japanese crank up the air conditioning when the sunny days come again. It's a habit you'll quickly grow to love, and definitely miss once you're outside again in the oppressive heat and sun.
Fortunately there's an invention to remedy this: handheld fans!
Straight from South Korea, pocket fans have gradually won the hearts of the Japanese following the Korean Wave - the increase in global popularity of South Korean culture since the 1990s, first driven by the spread of K-dramas and K-pop.
Now, they are found more and more in the hands of the Japanese, especially young people, who see them as fashionable accessories as well as a practical way to combat the scorching summer heat.
Read: Okubo Koreantown
Where can you find them? Handheld fans are sold in many department stores, such as Tokyu Hands or Loft. In Tokyo, it's also easy to find them in the cosmetics shops of "Korean Town" in Shin-Okubo.
5. Eat like a local
Eat light and eat cold is a bit of a slogan during summer in Japan!
That's why somen are so easy to find during this season, these thin wheat noodles are eaten refreshingly cold with a soy-based dipping sauce, similar to hiyashi-chuka, a Chinese dish composed of cold noodles served with vegetables.
- Related: Japanese noodles
And for dessert don't forget the star of summer sweets: kakigori, a traditional Japanese frozen dessert made from crushed ice!
While these tips will (hopefully) be useful to you, don't forget common sense either. Remember to wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun's rays, avoid staying outside in the most intense heat of the day (between noon and 3pm), and don't forget mosquito repellent, whether you're in the countryside or city... you never know!