Surviving Summer in Japan

Okay, let's face it, summer in Japan is brutal. Whether you hail from cool climates or sticky summery ones, chances are that Japan will still be a challenge for you in the summer. But fear not! At Odigo we are happy to offer you humble suggestions for beating the heat.
First, I will present my qualifications for discussing this subject.1. I have endured 3 Japanese summers2. I am still alive
I think that shall suffice. Oh, did I mention that two of those summers were in Kyushu? Anyway, enough about my credentials, here comes the good stuff...

First point, clothing:

It may be tempting to start stripping off layers of clothing in a heat-induced frenzy. I would advise against this for two reasons. One, you'll be leaving yourself exposed to the burning power of the Rising Sun. You can get a nasty sunburn real quick here in Japan. Second, it's not all that socially acceptable to show a lot of skin. Women can usually get away with wearing shorts and skirts without any major issues, but up top is a different matter. Lately, men are wearing shorts in summer as well. This was less common some years ago. Instead of removing clothes, I recommend buying "breathable"'clothing. This allows good airflow. There are a number of brands that offer these breezy summer duds. This kind of clothing also dries really quickly helping to reduce the sweat build up.

Next point, accessories:

No doubt you've been strolling around in Japan on what seems like the sunniest day of the year and encountered numerous people carrying umbrellas. I know I did. At first I thought, "It's not gonna rain. Those people are silly!" Their silliness is debatable, but the umbrella is actually a good idea. It's called "higasa," or sun umbrella in Japanese. Simply put, it's portable shade for you. And if it does happen to rain, you're already holding an umbrella. Two birds with one stone!
Another useful accessory, the hand fan. These come in two varieties, the "sensu" and the "uchiwa." A sensu is your traditional Japanese fan. A popular souvenir, it just screams JAPAN! It's also practical. However the uchiwa is even more effective. Uchiwa are round and wider and easier to cool off with quickly. You can obtain uchiwa with cute characters depicted on them and many companies give these away for free (including us here at ODIGO!) to help advertise their brand. It's win win!

Final point, location:

This one may seem like a no-brainer. Sometimes we forget our common sense when our brains are frying like eggs inside of our skulls. Go where it's cool! Many department stores, convenience stores and other shops have air conditioning. Why not take a trip out to enjoy some shopping and escape from the heat at the same time.  If you are out and about outside try to stay in the shade.
What's that? You don't want to go out today?

That's fine, I have a solution for homebodies as well. Establish one room in your house or apartment as your "sanctuary." It's really expensive (and wasteful) to air condition an entire domicile, even a small Japanese one. Pick a room, bite the bullet and get an air conditioning unit, and just hide in your sanctuary on those unbearably hot days.  If you are a visitor your hotel room will certainly be air conditioned so taking a nice afternoon break in the room or the hotel lobby to read a book and recover might help make the trip better and keep your holiday healthy and heat-stroke free.

I hope you found these suggestions helpful. One thing I did not mention earlier that really warrants a reminder...stay hydrated! You'll be sweating out there so drink lots of water or sports drinks. With a vending machine every 2.5 meters or so, there's no excuse! Just be careful with beverages that have dehydrating effects like coffee and other alcoholic beverages.
Stay safe out there in the heat and happy travels!

In Tokyo over the summer and feeling the heat? Check out these great spots to cool down in this 'Beat the Heat in Tokyo' trip!

Paul M.