Truth be told, this must be the worst hot weather most of us foreigners have ever experienced. The summers in Japan are very hot, and that would not be so overwhelming if it weren’t for the humidity that can reach levels of up 90% and even 100%. In order to understand this, just imagine walking through a Turkish hammam, all day long. This means that you sweat even inside the house without doing anything. You end up taking showers various times a day, because you’re sticky from sweating like 100 times a day.
It’s end of July and from what I’ve been told it’s only going to get worse. So, here’s some observations of what the Japanese do to protect themselves during this period and some tips. Some are popular only in Japan and I haven’t seen them anywhere else. So, here goes:
- Ride a bike rather than walking. The heat is more bearable with the sort of breeze you get when you ride. If you are in Tokyo, riding a bike is not the best, but the rest of Japan is fine.
- Bike sleeves. These are some sort of covers added to the bike handles to protect your hands from the sun. Thy can also be use for the rain. I’ve seen then in white (lace looking material) and black.
- Put on sunblock daily!! Although recently I read an article that apparently this is worse than going out without any, due to the chemicals in the sunblock, but I’m not buying it.
- Stay hydrated!!! With the vending machines everywhere, you have access to cold water all the time, so there’s no excuse. Or you can just carry your own bottle/thermos.
- There are toilets everywhere, so that makes it easier to hydrate. But with the amount you sweat, this barely comes in handy 🙂
- Sun hats or caps, preferably those that can be folded so it’s easier to store and carry.
- Sun glasses, need no explanation. Funny enough, Japanese don’t really wear them. It’s mostly the foreigners.
- Wear white and loose clothes or at least the top part. Most Japanese women wear wavy tops. The idea is that you don’t want anything tight on your body. I started wearing 2 layers; one to sweat and one on top to look decent.
- Japanese sun caps! These I decided to split in 2: the dog cone type and the Darth Vader type. Below you have the Darth Vader type 🙂 I must admit that the first time I saw them on a person I startled.
- Sun gloves, which is something I’ve only seen in Japan. I was kind of shocked at first, but I understand now. The sun here is out of control. Sunblock is not enough!! I never had a tan in my life, but I do now.
- Sun umbrellas. You can use any umbrella you have, but here there are special ones for the sun with UV protection. These type of umbrellas are grey on the inside. I saw a lot of people put a support on their bike that holds their sun umbrellas.
- Summer scarves to protect your neck from the sun or simply just t wipe your sweat.
- Japanese use handkerchiefs or little towels to wipe their sweat (which you will do profusely).
- Pretty fans (flamenco style) to use if you are in a place with no AC. You can get them anywhere here, in any color and size. I saw even men use it. So, it’s pretty common to have one.
- An AC in your apartment is a must, it will make your days more bearable. If you don’t, then get fans to be able to survive.
For now, I’m just bracing for impact, although it already hit me 🙂 That being said, I’m quite happy to trade the grey Belgian skies for this super sunny weather. But keep in mind, if you want to visit Japan try to avoid the period between June and August when there’s this burning furnace.