Japan’s weather, in most areas, is extra seasonal, Winters are freaking cold and Summers are freaking hot. Not just hot but humid, extra humid. If you’re booking a trip to Japan or about to experience your first Summer here, please do not underestimate the warning, the heat will be sultry, sweaty and sticky.
Luckily, because of a lifetime of experience and the ‘always prepared’ mentality of the Japanese there are many techniques one can use to not only survive the Summer but also enjoy it. These 10 tips and tricks will help you enjoy your best Japan life while avoiding painful burns, embarrassing pit stains, itchy or swollen insect bites, frizzy hair and fatigue.
1. Pack your bag
Even as a woman, who has been trained her whole life to know the handbag as a necessity, I really hate needing a bag whenever I go somewhere but during the Japanese Summer, it’s my best friend.
Inside the bag is the answer to most of the downfalls of the Japanese Summers. There’s no need to worry about bug bites, when I’m able to regularly top up my bug spray, there’ll be no sunburn when I have my trusty spf on hand, the wet wipes will keep me clean and the hat will protect my head when I can’t find shade.
Be sure to always have the following on you when bravely exiting whatever safe, air conditioned location you’re staying in:
- bug spray
- hand fan
- wet wipes
2. Drink your water
It may seem obvious but on average none of us are likely consuming enough water even though we know we should be. Now consider how much water we lose as we sweat. During Japanese Summer you will likely be sweating 24/7 so staying hydrated will not only keep you feeling less fatigued and comfortable but it’s pivotal for your health.
Lack of drinking adequately during heavy humidity and direct sunlight is one of the main causes of heat stroke so needs to be taken seriously.
Japan, in its usual efficiency, also provides immediate thirst and heat relief with available frozen versions of the usual bottled waters and sports drinks, available in all convenience stores and supermarkets.
3. Know where the closest aircon is
Sometimes, when out and about for too long, you may find yourself in desperate need of a quick cool down. Luckily most streets provide at least one nearby convenience store where the aircon is sure to be on in full blast so feel free to take a quick pit stop, cool down and recharge.
It is also vital to choose the right train carriage. When deciding on a carriage on a train, most of us tend to just enter via the closest one approachable but heed this warning, some carriages are only ‘mildly conditioned’ to benefit who? I’m not sure, but given the length of your journey this could make for an extremely uncomfortable travel option. Usually signage can be found at the foot of the waiting line area, so be sure to double check before making commitments.
4. Take advantage of the freebies
An intelligent way in which Japanese businesses have used hot summers to their advantage, is to advertise on much needed Summer necessities. Often you will pass by different people offering free tissues, energy drinks and hand held fans with company logos on them, be sure to take advantage. Having spares of any of these things during the sweltering heat is a sure way to always be prepared to combat the humidity driven discomfort.
5. Look out for the unusual cooling products
While shopping in Japan during the summer you may see words like ‘Cooling’ presented beside things that don’t really connect to this word. For example, blankets, pillows, sprays, slippers, wipes, vests and even socks. I don’t understand the science and honestly, I don’t need to. They all work. The ice sprays in particular are bizarre but incredible, the cooling bed wear is a god send that has saved me many an astronomical air con bill and sleepless night and considering socks are often required indoors around Japan, you’re going to need the cooling ones.
6. Admire bubbles and greenery at the parks
Of course once your bag is correctly packed and you’re ready to brave the heat, why not enjoy admiring some beautiful Japanese parks. When the sun is shining, hoards of Japanese families and friends make way for the parks to enjoy picnics, BBQs, karaoke, yoga, markets and performances. There are always interesting things to see and do at the bigger parks in Japan and always unexplained bubbles floating by adding a lovely whimsy to your sunny park adventures.
7. Hit the beaches
Japan is not well known for its beaches but that does not mean they don’t have some great swimming options. Okinawa, Wakayama, Kobe, Miyakejima, Kagoshima and even Tokyo all offer some magazine worthy beaches. They have clean blue waters for relaxing swims. They allow for incredible photo opportunities. As long as you rent a large umbrella which everyone can safely take shade under and have that bag prepared, the summer is the ideal opportunity to take full advantage of these underrated beaches.
8. Escape inside
Though there are many great places to visit on a Sunny day in Japan. There will be days where you need a break from the sizzling sun. That’s why it’s lucky that there’s a bunch of fun indoor activities available all over Japan with no fear of burning or mosquitos.
Spocha is a kind of arcade/bowling alley that also offers batting cages, bubble soccer, virtual golfing, trampoline rooms and so much more. Usually you can spend the entire day here, running around all the different floors for about 3000 yen and this even includes all those mad and colourful Japanese arcade games you may have hoped to come across. These play areas can be found all over Japan, just keep an eye out for a large bowling pin sitting on top of a building.
Or why not embrace that Japanese culture and enjoy some Karaoke with friends. You’d be surprised how quick a day can fly by as you wait patiently for your song to play before belting out the tunes as though you’re Beyonce herself.
9. Take the opportunities to test taste the unusual ice cream flavours
Of course, matcha ice cream is a must when visiting Japan any time of the year but while needing a quick cool down, why not take advantage of the opportunity to try some of the even more unusual ice cream flavours available in Japan such as sweet potato, pumpkin, edamame and I’ve even seen onion, once or twice. Unusual flavours can be found in most convenience stores and most prefectures will have their own special flavours like apple in Aomori or orange in Wakayama.
10. Try cold noodles
The sweltering heat can easily kill an appetite and the idea of eating something warm may be more than the palette can bear right now. Guess it’s the perfect opportunity to try cold noodles. There are many popular cold noodle dishes in Japan.
Somen is the most popular Japanese noodle dish for Summer. They are thin and made from wheat flour. They are often accompanied with a dipping soup on the side and leave you feeling refreshed, re-energized and ready to take on the sun again.
Conclusion – Tips to survive the Japanese Summer
Now, you’re ready. You know the rules. Your bag is packed and you’re excited for some freebies, matcha ice cream and Somen noodles. The parks and beaches have been mapped out. The only thing left to do is ensure that wherever you’re staying has adequate AC! Sounds like I’m joking, I’m not, seriously double check it.