If you’re reading this now from the same little island I’m writing to you from, then you already know that summers in Japan are hot A.F, and that this one has been more unrelenting than most. You certainly don’t need me to tell you to drink water and apply sunscreen… at least I hope you don’t.
But take it from a veteran. If you’re planning on staying on this hot little island, there are a few things you can do to make life during these sweaty months a little more bearable. It may be a bit late in the game but let me lay some wisdom on you that will help you remain cool as a cucumber this summer.
Step 1 – Clean Your AC
If you’re from a land of central AC, like me, then the concept of the wee electronic units that heat and cool rooms here in Japan is probably just as foreign to you. I’m not going to tell you how to master the remote, since that bit is easily google-able.
Instead, I am going to implore you to do yourself a serious favour and CLEAN THAT SUCKER. Do it every year, ideally before the rainy season (during which you can use it to help you keep the mold situation under control).
Don’t be intimidated. It’s not that tough. And there are myriad videos on the internet to help you get the job done right. The result is a vastly more effective AC experience. Your room? Colder! Your utility bills? Lower! What more incentive do you need?
More you say? Well consider this: Not cleaning your AC’s filter can result in a truly gross build-up of black mold on the inside (And in the air it laters blows all around your room), as well as a torrential downpour of dirty water that is released when a clogged AC turns on for the first time in a long time.
Step 2 – Carry the Wipes
A truly underappreciated innovation of Japanese society is the cooling wipe. Like it’s cousin the oshibori, the cooling wipe is an indispensable item to have in your bag during the summer months.
Not only does it make you smell less like a high school locker room. It also leaves a minty cooling sensation that provides immediate (if temporary) relief for your overheating bod. There are a million scents to choose from so you’re sure to find one that suits you.
CAPTION: These bad boys right here are my faves.
Leave you smelling like a freshly laundered mermaid.
A word of warning, they are pretty drying for folks with sensitive skin (I suspect that one of the active ingredients is alcohol) so you’ll want to use them a bit sparingly and keep them away from eyes, bug bites, and cuts.
STEP 1 – Load up Your Pasmo
Truly the most basic pro-tip but not to be overlooked: Keep extra money on your transit card. You might not always remember to bring a water bottle, or may not want to drink the tepid water within. But having extra yennies on your Pasmo or Suica means being one tap away from an icy cold beverage after sprinting to your train.
STEP 5 – Throw Some Shade
Maybe you’re one of those people who LOVE the summer. I can’t relate. But if, like me, you’d rather not spend the entire 6 weeks cooped up indoors but burn like a lobster after 60 seconds of direct sun exposure, then it’s time to make like the crustaceans and start carrying your home one your back, so to speak.
CAPTION: Bringing this tiny, one-man sun shade is the ultimate beach day power move.
Portable sunshades are affordable, come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are, in my humble opinion, game-changers. They make it possible for even the palest among us to enjoy time by the river or in the park without burning to a crisp.
They also make you a HERO to friends and lovers alike when it’s time to plan camping trips or BBQs.
With these tips etched firmly into your mind, you are well on your way to a Tokyo summer that is sweaty and maybe a bit sunburned but thoroughly survivable.
See you at the beach!
(Just kidding, you definitely won’t)
Call me when it’s fall.