The rainy season heralds the start of summer. It’s a period of hot and humid days that can last right through until the end of September, with sweltering temperatures that peak in August. The sweat, humidity and mosquitos can make anyone feel grumpy.
Thankfully, most Japanese houses and apartments are equipped with air conditioners, as are the vast majority of shops and restaurants and, perhaps most mercifully, trains. But of course, you cannot simply cloister yourself away for three months.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of some things that can help you make your summer in Japan a little more bearable.
1. Mosquito Repellents
Mosquitoes (ka in Japanese) are abundant from late spring to early autumn in all open areas, but particularly in places close to water, and tiger mosquitoes (the black and white ones) in particular have a very nasty bite.
To keep them at bay as best you can, you’ll want to pick up some repellent spray. Your local drugstore or hundred yen shop will also have a variety of anti-mosquito products, from scented blocks to hang in your closet to bracelets you can wear and incense coils you can burn. Stock up and don’t take any chances!
2. Powder Sheets
Available in any konbini, drug store or ¥100 shop, these are basically wet tissues imbued with a deodorant powder. Besides actually using deodorant, they’re a great tool to have on hand to fight stank and humidity. It’s pretty much impossible not to sweat in the height of summer, so these are good for freshening up throughout the day until you can get home and have a cool shower.
3. Dehumidifying Tubs
Mold is a big problem in the summer, with shoe cabinets and closets being the biggest breeding grounds. These plastic tubs are partly filled with absorbent substances that will help to draw some of the moisture out of the air.
Put a couple of these in any enclosed spaces in your apartment, change them once they become full of water, and save yourself the upset of having to throw away possessions that have grown a disgusting layer of gray fur come autumn.
4. Sports Drinks
Hydration is important. Carrying around bottled water or a tumbler (also a good way to save money) will keep you from passing out from the heat. If you exercise, your body is also going to be craving salt, which your body loses through sweating. Thankfully, Japan is abundant with salty isotonic sports drinks.
Some of our favorites are Kirin Loves Sports and Pocari Sweat. It’s debatable which is the very best sports drink, but you should definitely let us know what yours is in the comments.
5. Folding Fan
It’s amazing what a light breeze on the face or back of the neck can do on a hot and sticky day—you’ll see many people fanning themselves while commuting or just wandering around the city. Beautiful in its simplicity, a folding fan (or its non-folding, rounded counterpart, the uchiwa) can be obtained easily and cheaply from any ¥100 shop.
6. UV-Protective Parasols
While the concept may sound a bit strange to some, UV-protective parasols are actually quite a big thing in Japan, especially among women. The umbrella itself comes in a variety of designs that are all made with fabric that helps guard the skin against harmful UV rays, think of it as an added barrier to your sunscreen routine.
Make sure to keep it close whenever you head out on a particularly cloudless day as it not only protects you but it’s also quite the fashion statement. Most department stores sell these at a fairly reasonable price.
7. Cooling Bedsheets
If you a fan or your air conditioner is cutting it, avoid tossing and turning in your sleep with bedsheets that help keep you cool all through the night. At certain furniture or lifestyle stores in Japan, you can easily find bedding that was made to stay cool to the touch.
There are other products, both useful and gimmicky, to be found in the seasonal aisles at this time of year: cooling sprays, gloves and sleeves to keep the sun off your skin and beyond. Throwing together a “summer survival kit” is pretty easy and affordable, and will help you to feel considerably more comfortable.
What are your summer must-haves in Japan? Is there anything we should add to the list? Let us know in the comments!