How to Japan

Dealing with the brutal Japanese summer

The summer heat in Japan is truly suffocating and may be a big surprise for someone coming from a cooler climate. Here's some tips on how to cope.

Summer in Japan is brutal! The high temperature combined with the unrelenting humidity make some people believe that summer is one of the worst times to visit Japan. However, not everything is that bad. Summer can also be a great time to enjoy the country if you have the right resources to deal with the heat and humidity. Here we introduce you some of the best products you can find in Japan to deal with its brutal summer.

Refreshing wipes

In the same way that in winter we have “hot patches” available to deal with the cold, if you want to alleviate the heat of the Japanese summer you just need to go to a drugstore and buy refreshing wet wipes. Refreshing wipes are usually marked with the word ice (アイス), like the Gatsby Ice Type, quite common and easy to find.

There is also a kind of refreshing sachets that are activated with a tap. Once you buy them, you give them a little tap and after a few seconds they become incredibly cold. They can definitely help you cool down in moments of great heat.

Tenugui wipes

Tenugui wipes (手ぬぐい) are a Japanese summer must for both men and women. They are 90cm x 35cm rectangular shaped hand towels that include traditional patterns. They are often used to dry sweat from the forehead and neck during the summer. Many men and women tie them around their heads to control heat and sweat. It is interesting to note that the edges of the fabric are never sewn so that they do not get dirty and can dry quickly. It is very difficult to survive the harsh summer without these wipes.

Cool sprays and lotions

These sprays are like icy relief in a can – shake, spray, and feel instantly cooler! They are an ideal instant relief when you are in the sunshine exploring the city. As they are small and lightweight, they will fit in your bag perfectly.

Cool lotions work in a very similar way to cool sprays but it is best to put the lotion on your skin before going out in the sun. Cool lotions are especially good to use after a long day and a relaxing bath. This cool lotion will be your best friend during summer in Japan, especially if you got a little sunburn and want to relieve the discomfort.


T-shirts made from cool, quick-drying materials are sold as refreshing clothing. Wearing a cool, absorbent shirt under your clothes makes a big difference in summer. Since your outer shirt won’t get so wet, you will feel less drenched in sweat. If you are worried about washing extra clothes, that is ok: you can easily wash these lightweight t-shirts, hang them up, wait overnight to dry and wear them again the next day.

There are also socks made of a similar, cool, quick-drying material that can be very helpful. Regardless of whether you are walking with closed shoes or sandals, you can use cool spray for your feet and feel fresh all day.

Furin wind chimes

One of the most typical sounds of the Japanese summer is that of the furin wind chimes (風鈴). At the end of the rainy season (tsuyu) and with the arrival of summer, Japanese people usually hang furin wind chimes in windows and exits (such as doors to terraces and gardens). They evoke summer not only when they ring with the grateful Japanese summer breeze, but also with the materials they are made of (glass, ceramic or metal). For a Japanese person, the sound of furin is synonymous with summer and gives them some peace and tranquility.

Mini fans

Aside from traditional Japanes fans (uchiwa), which are beautiful but require tedious manual labor, the alternative is a portable battery-powered fan that easily fits in your bag. When you buy one of these make sure they come with batteries (some stores include them, others do not). Portable fans sometimes include a small container of added water. Thus, you get a fan that sprays water. Put some ice cubes in the bin and you will have an automated cooling spray! Portable fans are usually very cheap and can be found in most stores.


At first it may seem that they do not work, but they really do. You may find it curious to see women using parasols on the streets. However, these can really save you from sunburns and keep you cool. These parasols (called “higasa” in Japanese) are also very cheap and can be found in many places.


As it is very hot in summer, one of the things you most want to eat is a good ice cream or the famous flavored shaved ice called “kakigori” (か き 氷). Due to its texture and appearance, it is more like a slushie than an ice cream. Among its most popular flavors we have strawberry, lemon or melon syrup.

During the hot Japanese summer, you can find kakigori everywhere, from street stalls to coffee shops, where they are often combined with condensed milk, azuki red bean paste, or even tapioca. You just have to look for the blue and white banner with the kanji for “ice! (氷) in red to know that kakigori is sold there.

Summer in Japan can be unbearable at times, you can definitely deal with the hot weather with these ingenious Japanese products. Stay cool and enjoy Japan!

I was born in Malaga (Spain), and after spending a season in Paris and London, my great passion for comics and manga led me to move to Kyoto as a doctoral student in 2018. In my spare time I write short stories and, I am the author of the book Touching the Stars.

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