Cool biz has been a summer buzzword since the Cool Biz Campaign was launched by the Japanese government in 2005. The Cool Biz Campaign aims to help reduce energy consumption in part by having government offices and cooperating private companies set the air-conditioner to 28˚C. In addition, the campaign encouraged workers to wear cooler clothing to work, which in effect meant a more casual dress code for summer.
In the wake of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the government announced the Super Cool Biz Campaign in response to power shortages and the need to conserve energy by at least 15%. The Super Cool Biz Campaign builds upon the Cool Biz Campaign, suggesting guidelines that will help reduce energy use both at work and at home.
What exactly does “cool biz” and “super cool biz” mean for those working in Japan? Depending on your company, the answer could be anything from cooperating with drastic energy-saving measures to nothing at all. However, many Japanese companies are taking the government guidelines seriously and reducing their energy consumption.
We’ll look at some of the suggestions from the Super Cool Biz Campaign which might have had an effect on your work life.
Super Cool Biz Energy Consumption Guidelines
One of the main tenets of the Cool Biz Campaign, upon which the Super Cool Biz Campaign builds, is keeping the air-conditioner at 28˚C. In a Japanese Ministry of the Environment survey about the original 2005 campaign, 32.7% of respondents stated that the air-conditioner in their office was set lower that year than during previous years.
Personally, the places I have worked in Japan set the air-conditioning to 28˚C or higher and didn’t allow the air-conditioning to be turned on until mid-June. The first summer was brutal, but by also wearing “cool biz,” you can help save the environment while also keeping yourself sane.
Super Cool Biz Office Wear
In 2011, the government further loosened the “cool biz” summer dress code in the name of “super cool biz.” Many offices that follow cool biz air-conditioner guidelines will also issue their own summer dress code. In my experience, rather than “cool biz dress code,” the guidelines were labeled “軽装の実施” (keisou no jisshi, implementation of casual dress code). The Japanese government’s super cool biz dress code is listed below.
Japanese Government Cool Biz Summer Dress Code
Not required to wear:
Allowed to wear:
Half-sleeve dress shirts
Kariyushi shirt (Okinawan shirt)
Hawaiian shirts/Aloha shirts (!)
Not allowed to wear:
Before showing up to work in a Hawaiian shirt, though, make sure to check your own company’s guidelines. Each workplace is different, and the dress code may differ based on the type of work. Wearing the higher ups on this government dress code list is a safe bet.
Super Cool Biz Work Hours
Super Cool Biz doesn’t stop at air-conditioner guidelines and dress code. Below are some more energy-saving summer suggestions published by the Japanese government that may affect your work life if implemented by your office.
Start work shifts earlier in the morning
Take a long summer vacation
Super Cool Salaryman
One phenomenon that you will see in Japan during the summer months is Japanese salarymen carrying their jackets around with them. Even in the dead heat of summer the jacket is part of the uniform and many salarymen would never show up at a client’s office without wearing a jacket.
So the salaryman will show up outside his client’s office, put his jacket on and go inside where the client who is aware of the situation will immediately suggest that he take his jacket off.
This fun little ritual is all part of being a super cool biz Japanese salaryman or woman!