How to Survive Japanese Summer
How to Survive Japanese Summer

Japanese summer is hot. And humid. But I think I’ve learned how to survive Japanese summers.

Summer in Japan is much hotter and more humid than my home in Canada. So I have had to learn how to deal with the heat and humidity and thus survive Japanese summers.

Here are a few things I have learned.

10 tips to survive Japanese summers

1.Use the “dry” setting on your air conditioner

Instead of using the air conditioner setting, use the dry (joushitsu) setting. It’s supposed to take moisture from the air while not being as cold as regular A/C.

I prefer it because the air conditioner is too cold for me. And the A/C makes my throat and eyes dry if it is on for too long.

2. Use a fan

You know, a fan. A stand fan or a ceiling fan both work. I don’t think it brings the electricity bill up quite as much as the air conditioner.

Recently I read that you can also freeze a bottle of water and put it in front of the fan so that it will blow cold air on you.

I was intrigued, so I gave this a try. I can’t say I felt much difference, and it left a water stain on my chair. So not sure I would recommend this. Still, fans by themselves work just fine.

2. Use a hand fan

If you want a greener option than both the air conditioner and a fan, try a hand-held fan. You can buy them for ¥100 and sometimes get them for free from someone passing them out on the street.

yukata at nagoya castle

3. Fold your futon EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

This is important. I learned this mistake the hard way.

It is very very humid during Japanese summer, and therefore easy for mould to grow.

I used to sleep on a futon on the floor, and I didn’t air it out in the mornings. One day, I stuck my hand underneath it and found that it was dripping wet.

In horror, I flipped it over to find patches of black mould all over the bottom. I cleaned it off the best I could, and from that day on aired it out every day.

Also I came to the conclusion that that’s why I had been getting sick a lot.

I just stood it on it’s side and folded it like an accordion so it didn’t fall down. But even better is to hang it outside over a balcony railing in the sun.

4. Buy a towelkit or a cold-to-touch blanket

This is a Japanese creation (I think). It is a blanket, but made out of towel-like material. It is supposed to not be so hot when you are trying to sleep in the hot nights.

There are also blankets made from other materials that are cool to the touch. You can get a blanket, mattress pad, and pillow covers made from this magical material.

5. Eat cold noodles

If you are not familiar, cold noodles might sounds weird. But they are actually quite tasty.

Although I wasn’t a fan of the Korean cold noodle soup. Cold Japanese soba is easy to make and a refreshing meal when it is hot and humid.

You can buy different kinds of cold noodle dishes at the convenience store.

6. Eat kakigori

This is shaved ice, and it’s a popular Japanese summer treat, with kids at least. It’s topped with sugary fruit juice and sometimes topped with real fruit.

It’s alright, but sometimes it hurts my sensitive teeth. I like to eat it when I go to the beach though. An icy treat might help you survive Japanese summers.

kakigori

And on that note:

7. Go to the beach!

It’s hot and humid, so it sounds like beach weather, no? Go to the beach. Make the most of summer while you can.

Beaches can get a bit crowded, but whatever. That’s part of the fun of going to the beach sometimes.

Read: 5 beaches in Okinawa to make you jelly

beach

8. Battle the mosquitos

There a lot of mosquitos in Japan, at least in my apartment anyway.

There are some different tools that you buy to keep them away – vaporizers, intense, and hanging things. I recently bought a couple of things, and I have to say they might actually be working.

I think I have noticed less mosquitos.

8.5. And the cockroaches

Personally, I don’t have a problem with cockroaches. In fact, I have a strange fondness for them.

If I find one in my house, I try and catch it and put it outside before my husband comes to kill it.

They’re fast though, so it’s hard to catch them. Try not to keep food out or let the trash get too full. Though I find them in the toilet and shower too, so I doubt you can really keep them away. Unless you live on a high floor.

9. Be ready for never-ending “atsui desu ne.”

This means “it’s hot, isn’t it?” Yeah, it’s hot. Everyone knows it’s hot. It’s 30+ degrees.

Why do you keep saying it. It’s not helpful. Though I admit, I do it too.

You will even hear it from random people on the street talking to themselves.

Read: Holiday season in Japan

10. Accept the fact that you will not stop sweating until October

Once rainy season has started you will be sweaty. All. The. Time. It will be dripping down your back and your legs on your walk to the station. Just accept it.

And finally,

11. Go to a Japanese summer festival

Why not survive Japanese summers by making the most of it.

There are many summer festivals in Japan. Starting in June and going through August, you will surely be able to find a festival in your town.

Put on your yukata, bring your fan, get some takoyaki and a cold drink, and watch the fireworks. It’s still hot and humid, but at least it’s something fun to look forward to.

Pin it!

How to Survive Japanese Summers

Ten tips turned into 11 and a half tips. You’re very welcome.

This list is not exhaustive, and I’m sure that are things I’ve missed. Let me know other ways that help you survive Japanese summers, or hot humid summers in general.

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Read: 5 tips to survive the rainy season in Japan

Read: Rainy day photography tips: Nagoya Castle

Author

After Teaching English in Korea and Japan for three years, Jennifer decided to go back to school. She studied Japanese, finished her Master's Degree, and is currently working on a PhD. This blog was born as a way for her to write about her adventures around the world, trips within Japan, and life in Japan as foreigner married to a Japanese man.

36 Comments

  1. Ice cold drinks work wonders! Since this summer I’ve been using the frappé option on my blender almost daily (basically just high speed) to blend 8 ice cubes, instant coffee, a little milk and sugar and just enough water to make it smooth. It’s become like a comfort food..err.. drink for my studying. Jamaican summers are hot & humid too so I can relate. Stay cool 🙂

    • The drink you just described reminds me of the frozen drink you can buy in Canada at a famous donut shop. I like that drink very much, and I always buy it as soon as I get off the plane when I go home. It’s so yummy and definitely helps beat the hot weather.

  2. Great tips! I’ll be using a few of them here, in Cairo, where it’s also hot and humid lately.

  3. That sounds a lot like Hong Kong. I wish the hotel had that setting because I got sick from the hot/freezing changes between outside and inside. Got me every time.

    • Yes, I prefer the dry setting. Regular A/C is too cold for me. Even when it’s 35 degrees outside, I can’t understand why people feel the need to blast the A/C and turn the room into the Arctic.

  4. Oh I’m glad I visited in winter last time. I didn’t know you have mould problems there too. That’s very scary but very common in Singapore. One Dec my family went away on a 3wk holiday and when we came back, our entire ceiling turned black and everything was mouldy, had to repaint the entire place. Yikes!

    • Oh, ewww! That’s a sucky way to return from vacation. It’s good you visited Japan in the winter then. It’s a bit cold, but at least you don’t have to worry about the heat, humidity, and mould.

  5. Asian summers are the worst. So humid!! Thanks for sharing your tips! I never knew about the dry setting on air conditioners?!

    PS. I read your About me section on your blog and OMG, we might be living the same life LOL. I’m from Canada, started studying Japanese in high school because I thought it looked cool, became obsessed with Japan….went to university and did a study abroad in Chile and lived with a home stay family. Moved to Korea to teach English after university and met my Japanese husband! We had our wedding in Hawaii in 2012! Crazy huh?!

  6. You have a fondness for cockroaches!!! Do you know that when I had to dissect them during biology lab classes, I would use forceps to hold the wings away? I could not bear to look, leave alone touch them. Till the teacher threatened to report me for not falling in line. Then I had to actually touch them, hold the wings with my hands and let the gooey white liquid touch my hands. Trauma.

  7. That is crazy about the futon–I don’t think it would ever occur to me to have to keep the bed dry. Glad you found out about the mold and found a solution to keep it dry! As for the roaches, you have a big heart. We found a couple in my classroom and I have to move to the other end of the room while my students get rid of them…

    • I knew that people hang their futon outside when they get the chance. But I didn’t know it was to prevent mould. I thought people were too paranoid. It was dumb of me to think that I know how to live in Japan better than Japanese people.

  8. >cockroaches…don’t hurt people or cause any harm

    I grew up in Florida…but I’ve been living in Tokyo since 1990. Florida is just as hot and muggy as Japan is during the summer…and Florida has mosquitoes, mold and cockroaches too. So, I’m used to this type of summer.
    And cockroaches aren’t completely harmless! They sometimes (not often, luckily) bite people. They can chew through plastic bags to get to food. They eat fruit if it’s not in the fridge.
    About the only good thing about them is that they like to eat styrofoam (for some reason!)

    I also wrote a post about summer in Japan:
    https://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/summer-traditions/

  9. I like insects…except cockroaches and mosquitoes! They contribute nothing positive to the ecosystem!

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