Surviving a Japanese Summer: Tips for enduring the Heat

Odaiba Beach in Tokyo

Surviving a Japanese Summer: How to deal with the heat and humidity

1. Use an ice pillow at night. The concept is simple, Japan sells a specific type of freeze pack (like you know, the kind you put on injuries) that are specifically designed to be a pillow.

If you don’t feel like shelling out the cash for a “special pillow,” then just go down to your nearest 100 yen shop, pick up a regular ice pack, and throw it in the freezer. At night, you can take it out, wrap it in a towel, and put it on top of your pillow.

It keeps your head cool throughout the night which works really well at keeping the rest of your body cool.

Invest in a nice ice-pack or ice pillow.

2. Go out during the hottest part of the day. This seems counter-intuitive, but bear with me. Go shopping, to karaoke, to Starbucks, or to the movies during the hottest part of the day, from about 12 noon to 3pm.

Shibuya 109 in Tokyo, Japan

Why? Because establishments typically blast their air conditioning. Even just a hours disruption from the heat and humidity of Japan can be a lifesaver.

It breaks up the day and gives your body a break from sweating.

If you don’t want to go out, then try taking an hour long nap every afternoon around 1pm (using your ice pillow, of course).

3. Keep your windows open in the morning and evening. No matter how hot it gets, when the sun goes down, there will be a cool breeze. Embrace that. Don’t fall asleep with your window open, though – especially if you have a sun window. When I visit my friend’s houses, they always double check (and occasionally double-lock) those large windows. People are afraid of bedroom intruders.

Japanese apartment windowsThis is my apartment. See the size of that window? It’s wonderful – during the day. At night I have to lock it…

4. Drink lots of 麦茶(Mugi cha / barley tea).

Mugi cha is a summer drink. People drink it more than water in the summer. I don’t know why, but my Japanese friends swear it makes the Japanese summer more bearable.

Salty Watermelon Pepsi Japanese weird drinksOr, if you’re adventuresome, Summer is a great way to try all sorts of new drinks. Like this Pepsi Salty Watermelon drink.

5. Keep a fan running at night. If you can crack your window open a bit, stick a fan next to it to keep your room cool. If not, put the fan on “low” and stick it next to your face.

The cooling of sweat should keep you cool enough that would won’t have to use the air conditioning,

6. Find a way to reflect the sun. I like to hang a large, white (dirty) sheet on the side of my apartment that faces the sun. I keep it on my laundry bar. I’ve noticed when sun isn’t hitting the wall of my apartment, it seems cooler.

Shade goes a long way.

Japanese doll in Tokyo


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About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

10 Comments on Surviving a Japanese Summer: Tips for enduring the Heat

  1. Mike Pieratt // 7 February, 2015 at 2:26 am //

    How would you compare a Japanese summer to a Texan summer?

    I’m from Central Texas and I’m pretty used to 100° days. It’s not as bad as say Brownsville, but it’s hard to find a hotter place in the US than Texas.

  2. I live in Greece and we get high heat in summer, too. A few tips I’ve thought of is to drink lemon-related beverages. Lemon can quench you more than other stuff, because I could honestly drink a 1L drink by myself due to the heat. Also, if you bring a bottle of water with you while you are out, do the old trick of keeping it in the freezer from before so it has a large spike of ice on the inside, keeps it cooler for longer and you can use it to cool yourself, too. If you’re in the house, buy a cheap spritzer bottle and fill it with cool water, really nice to give your face and torso a refreshment. I’ve had an ice pillow but for me it didn’t do anything. :( Keeping a fan by your bed to hit your head/body can be annoying at first but you get used to it.

    • Yeah, it took me a while to get used to the fan. Now I love it (but my husband can’t stand it). We also have one of those spritzer bottles – it’s a lifesaver. These are some good tips, thanks for sharing!

  3. Ice pillow? That sounds great! I wish I had known about those when I lived in Yokohama. I would wake up with wet hair and then furiously turn over and over trying to find the cool side (there wasn’t one). I will definitely be looking for one of those.

    • There never seems to be a cool side, does there? I’m bringing a couple ice pillows back to the states for friends and family members – they are so useful. I hope you find a good one!

  4. Oh can’t find where I can follow.. Do you have GFC or Bloglovin? let me know! xo akiko
    Style Imported

  5. Hii Grace, I just stumbled upon your blog and found your post very interesting! because I’m japanese, living in the usa. I’ve heard about the extreme heat in japan this year many times.. stay cool! I’m following your blog, and visit mine if you have time too. Hope to keep in touch! xo akiko

    Style Imported

    • gracebuchele // 7 August, 2013 at 1:41 pm //

      Hi Akiko!
      I LOVE you style-related posts. You have great fashion sense!

      I’m following your blog now :)
      I look forward to seeing more of your posts, thank!

  6. Yes, “survival” is the goal. Ugh! I very much dislike summer in Japan – especially the more southern parts, which is why we usually leave and head north for most of August!

    • gracebuchele // 30 July, 2013 at 10:35 am //

      Smart idea!
      I’ve only done Summer in Osaka once (but it was unbearably hot…)
      Good luck this summer~

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