How to Keep Cool During Summer in Japan

higasa parasol japan

Summer in Japan packs a serious punch! Especially from late July through August, when temperatures reach an average of 80° Fahrenheit (30C). And, since the humidity during the summer months is about 80%, this can make it feel like 100° outside. Here is how to beat the heat during summer in Japan.

1. Dress Right

Keep in mind that unlike many other Western countries, even during the hottest months of the year, Japan is still quite conservative when it comes to showing skin. Often, you won’t see Japanese women where anything that exposes their shoulders, such as spaghetti straps and strapless dresses, and men’s tank tops are also uncommon. However, this is more-so the case in rural Japan, and is less strict as you go into major cities.

July and August are extremely humid and hot, so most people typically wear thin short-sleeved shirts, one-piece dresses, and clothing with breathable fabric, like cotton. In the summer, you’re likely to see men and women dressed in loose-fitting, full-length, wide-leg pants. These are a comfortable option if you’re nervous about showing off tattoos or appearing disrespectful while visiting shrines and temples.

There are also articles of clothing that you can wear underneath your outfit to help fight he heat. The massively popular clothing retail chain Uniqlo is famous for its range of AIRism innerwear which is specifically designed to keep you cool in the summer.

Comfortable walking shoes are essential when you visit Japan, as you’ll be walking a lot. Be sure to pack a pair of comfortable semi-casual shoes, but even though it is summer, don’t bother bringing a pair of flip flops. Flip flops are incredibly uncomfortable to walk in all day. Sandals are the better option if you really want to bring open toed shoes, but sandals don’t support your feet at all, and closed-toed sneakers will be much more comfortable.

summer walking shoes

2. Drink Up

Water, water, water! Because of the high temperatures and humidity, you’re going to sweat a lot. Therefore, besides lots of water, you should also have some sports drinks with you as well. When you sweat you’re not only losing water, but also essential electrolytes, salts, and other minerals. Japan has a wide variety of popular, delicious sports drinks such as Aquarius or Pocari Sweat. These are available at connivence stores as well as in vending machines.

Photo: Tokyo Creative

Mugicha (麦茶), or Japanese roasted barley tea, is a common traditional summer drink in Japan, as Japanese people believe that barley tea has cooling properties. Barley tea is also incredibly good for you, as it is full of Vitamin B, fiber, and iron.

Mugicha is a summer staple in Japan. During the hot summer months, many restaurants will serve iced mugicha instead of water, and it is also available in most vending machines, convenience stores, and supermarkets.

3. Wipe Down

As already said, you are going to sweat a lot during summertime in Japan. Luckily, Japan also sells a variety of cooling wet wipes, or sheets! These come in a portable pack and can be used to cool off while leaving a pleasant scent. These moist wipes create a refreshing tingling sensation, which results in a “cooling” feeling.

These wipes come in a variety of scents, ranging from feminine floral scents to more masculine musky scents. They can be found in the deodorant section of any local connivence store. The most popular brands are Gatsby and Biore.

Biore Cooling Wipes

Photo: Tokyo Creative

4. Fan Off

No matter what country you’re in, fans are a popular way to keep cool during the summer. You can carry around a traditional hand fan to keep you cool, or if your arms are getting tired you can buy a small portable electric pocket fan. Some electric pocket fans have a mist feature so you can spray yourself, too! Fans can be bought in many places, such as convenience stores, Loft, or Tokyu Hands.

Photo: Dojima Net

Photo: AliExpress

5. Eat Cool

What you eat can affect your body temperature as well! Stay away from hot dishes like soup and curry, and go for cold foods like sushi and onigiri. Cold noodles are another summer staple for Japanese people. Cold soba, or zaru soba, are cold buckwheat noodles that are served with a dashi or soy dipping sauce. It’s the perfect traditional Japanese summer food experience!

Nagashi soumen is another fun, popular summer food! Soumen noodles are thin, white wheat noodles served cold. But when eaten as Nagashi soumen however, is that the noodles are eaten while sliding down a bamboo stalk slide! It’s a bit tricky, as you have to use chopsticks to grab the noodles as they slide by, but its very fun (and delicious) once you get the hang of it. Definitely give nagashi soumen a try if you’re looking for a unique eating experience that will keep you cool as well as keep you entertained.

Kakigōri (かき氷) is Japanese people’s go-to traditional sweet in the summer. Kakigōri is shaved ice that is topped what a flavored syrup of some kind and sometimes with some condensed milk as well. It comes in all kinds of colorful flavors – some popular ones being strawberry, pineapple, green tea, and mango. There are kakigōri shops all over the place in the big cities, and you can also get kakigori from pop-up yatai food stalls at most summer festivals.

kakigori shaved ice

6. Bring Shade

You may see some people carrying around umbrellas, this might seem a bit strange, but it’s nice to have some portable shade with you. Many women in Japan also carry sun umbrellas or parasols, called higasa (日傘) in Japanese. These parasols are lightweight, come in all sorts of patterns, and provide a decent amount of protection from the sun. You can buy them for a good price at general goods stores such as Loft or Tokyo Hands.

If carrying around an umbrella all day doesn’t appeal to you, many people also wear a visor or a large sunhat to shield their face from the sun.

7. Instant Ice Pack

Carry the cold wherever you go with an instant ice pack. Regular ice packs eventually melt, and you have to keep them in the freezer for hours before they’re ready to use. Japan has ice packs that are plastic pouches filled with gel. The gel will immediately activate and freeze when you punch the pouch, and they stay cool for hours! You can also wrap them in a towel around your neck to stay cool when you’re going to be doing something active outside.

punch cool ice pack

7. Cooling Baths

After a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than taking a nice bath! When you take your nightly bath, definitely consider using bath salts in your water. During Japan’s hot summer months, there are lots of different kinds of cooling bath salts to use in your bath. Many of them having cool, minty scents, which will leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed. They’re also very good for your skin and muscles.

Japan cooling summer bath salts

Photo: Odigo

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