Generally filled with an abundance of festivals, fireworks and other exciting events to distract you from the heat, summer in Japan is an experience that many look forward to. However, since a lot of events have been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 situation, it may seem like all we have this summer is the heat and humidity. Yes, you can definitely enjoy some kakigori (shaved ice or snow cone) to cool down, or indulge in an ice-blended beverage or two to get you through the day. But, for those of you who are like me and do not favor the heat at all, we all know that’s not enough. So, let me introduce you to some products that I discovered during my first summer in Japan that completely changed my attitude towards the warm season and made days spent outside much more enjoyable.
Body Sheets to Refresh Your Skin
Think of these as deodorized, cooling wet tissues for your body. Wipe your skin with one, and you’ll instantly feel a cool sensation similar to walking into an air conditioned room after showering. There is a plethora of body sheets widely available at drug stores, convenience stores and supermarkets, and the sensation may vary depending on the variety you purchase.
The most common types you’ll come across are the ice types (also known as cool types) and deodorant types. The names somewhat speak for themselves, but both kinds of body sheets contain some kind of fragrance and menthol to make your body feel cooler, ultimately giving some relief to the skin on oppressively hot days. Interestingly, some ice types even claim that they can make your body feel three degrees cooler. Deodorant types, however, are much better at taking away the stickiness that you have accumulated from sweat, leaving your skin shockingly smooth and dry after a good wipe.
DISCLAIMER: As these products are applied directly to your skin, please perform a small patch test in case you get any reactions. If you have allergies, please read the list of ingredients before purchase. In addition, not all body sheets can be used for your face. Please read the packaging or consult with a shop assistant to make sure you do not buy the wrong product.
Small Towels to Wipe Away Your Sweat
Do not underestimate the convenience of this simple item. In Japan, you will see many locals with a small towel on their person as it is very much a necessity during the summer season. If you’re someone who does not appreciate the feeling of sweat trickling down your neck, back or into crevices you cringe thinking about, then you’ll want to purchase a small towel specifically for this purpose. There is nothing worse than going through your day feeling damp and sticky, meaning this small item is sure to be a game changer. They are super portable, don’t take up a lot of space, and are easy to whip out when you want to wipe yourself down.
Small towels can be bought at any 100 yen shop (百均, read as hyakkin), and there will often be a range of sizes and cute designs available to choose from. If you’re looking for something a little nicer, you can definitely find more luxurious options in department stores, such as Japan-made high quality towels with superb water absorbency that might be worth investing in. Or alternatively, you can purchase ones with your favorite fictional characters sold in specialty stores (sometimes referred to as character goods stores).
TIP: Due to COVID-19, almost all hand dryers in public bathrooms are no longer available for use in order to prevent the spread of the virus. So why not carry a small towel for drying your hands as well?
Dri-Fit Undershirts to Keep the Stains at Bay
Photo credit: himawariin/photoAC
Adding an extra layer of clothing may be the last thing you would think about doing in hot weather, but allow me to explain. During summer, many people fall victim to sweat stains, and wearing a dri-fit undershirt surprisingly solves this issue. By having this extra layer underneath your clothing, the garment acts as a barrier for preventing sweat stains from becoming visible to the public. Many are also quick-drying, self-deodorizing and antimicrobial, which keeps you damp free and relieves any leftover stickiness. This is especially helpful if you’re in a profession that requires you to wear dress shirts or blouses, which tend to not be the most breathable of garments. Most clothing brands make their own line of undershirts, so be sure to browse through your options and pick the one that best suits your needs!
Portable Electric Fans to Cool You Down
Photo credit: まぽ (S-cait)/photoAC
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a classic fan, except for the fact that it’s manual. You want to cool yourself down and yet you’re powering away by fanning yourself manually, which is not very efficient for sweat control. In that case, get a portable, electric fan and save yourself the trouble (and labor). Most electric fans are designed to last for hours if used sparingly, so save these for those really hot days outside or when you’re in spaces with limited ventilation.
TIP: Due to the current COVID-19 situation, wearing masks is one of the best forms of precaution, though unfortunately it doesn’t necessarily bode well with the hot summer weather. Having a portable electric fan will help with the stuffiness and help you cool down without having to remove your mask!
Photo credit: @shuarak Shuto Araki/Unsplash
Whether it is your first, second, or tenth summer in Japan, these products are sure to be helpful for those hot, humid days. Rather than constantly searching for shade or the nearest air-conditioned building, try out some of these delightful inventions to ease your summer-related worries. We can all agree that 2020 has put a lot of stress on our plates, so take some of the load off with these products, and at least the heat won’t be a thorn in your side this year.