How to Stay Cool During Summer in Japan: Tips, Vocabulary, Products

While Japan might not be a tropical country, summers in Japan are hot and humid. You’ll know that we’ve officially entered the hottest period of the year when the rainy season is over and you start hearing cicadas. So while you can enjoy the summer life in Japan, make sure to stay cool and hydrated as a lot of people suffer from heat stroke during the peak of summer.

If Japan is your getaway destination during the summer holidays, you might want to know how to get around the summer heat to enjoy your holiday to its fullest! Here are our suggesrainy season called 梅雨 (tsuyu)tions for ways that you can do to beat the heat in Japan.

Summer Weather in Japan

Summer, called 夏 (natsu), starts with a rainy season called 梅雨 (tsuyu) from June until mid-July, when it is usually cloudy and rainy. The high temperature for this period is generally between 25-27°C, with a low of around 18-19°C. After that comes the real summer, with lots of sunshine until the end of August. Temperatures are much higher, with a high of around 28-33°C and a low of 22-25°C.

For those who want to check the Japanese weather forecast for the most accurate information, here is some basic vocabulary that you need to know:

EnglishJapaneseRomaji
Weather forecast天気予報tenki yohou
Weather天気tenki
Sunny (clear weather)快晴kaisei
Sunny晴れhare
Cloudy曇りkumori
Rainame
Big rain大雨ooame
Thunderkaminari
Forecast high temperature最高気温saikou kion
Forecast low temperature最低気温saitei kion
Humidity湿度shitsudo
Probability of precipitation降水確率kousui kakuritsu
Wind speed風速fuusoku
Wind direction風向fuukou
Pressure気圧kiatsu

For those who are not used to the Celsius measurement, another way to tell if it’s hot is by how weather forecasts describe the day. In the summer, each day is classified into one of the following depending on the forecast high temperature.

夏日:最高気温25ºC以上の日
Natsubi : saikou kion nijuugodo ijou no hi
Summer day: days where the high temperature is 25°C or above

真夏日:最高気温30ºC以上の日
Manatsubi: saikou kion nijuugodo ijou no hi
Hot Summer day: days where the high temperature is 30°C or above

猛暑日:最高気温35ºC以上の日
Moushobi: saikou kion nijuugodo ijou no hi
Extremely hot day: days where the high temperature is 35°C or above

熱帯夜:最低気温25ºC以上の日
Nettaiya: saikou kion nijuugodo ijou no hi
Sweltering night: days where the high temperature is 25ºC or above

夏日 (natsubi) are still comfortable as a nice summer day, but 真夏日 (manatsubi), 猛暑日 (moushobi), and 熱帯夜 (nettaiya) can get uncomfortable and even dangerous. Apart from turning on the A/C and drinking water, read on to see how to avoid the summer heat like a local.

kakigori for summer in japan

1. Cool Down with the Right Food

It’s hard to go wrong with eating cold food on hot summer days. Here are some examples of cold food that are popular in the summer:

冷やしそうめん (hiyashi soumen) is chilled soumen, a popular and simple meal for the summer. そうめん (soumen) is a type of thin wheat noodle with a simple plain taste, boiled and then cooled down in ice or cold water. This is paired with a cold stronger soy-based sauce called つゆ (tsuyu), along with chopped green onions and other toppings of choice. The noodles and sauce are served separately, and it is eaten by dipping the noodles into the sauce.

Some may go the extra mile and have 流しそうめん (nagashi soumen), where 冷やしそうめん (hiyashi soumen) is turned into a fun group activity by having to catch the noodles flowing in a stream of cool water. One person will drop some soumen noodles into clean flowing water in tilted half bamboo shoots, and others will try to catch them from the middle or the other end. 

冷やし中華 (hiyashi chu-ka) can be literally translated to chilled Chinese food, and is another chilled noodle dish. In this dish, chilled Chinese noodles are used, similar to those used in ラーメン (ramen). These noodles are generally topped with thin strips of thin omelets, cucumber, carrot, tomato, ham, and crab. It is also eaten with a chilled soy-based sauce, but instead of dipping into the sauce, the sauce is poured over the noodles right before eating.

Cold desserts are a global favorite, and this is also true for Japan. Frozen desserts are generally called アイス (aisu) in Japanese, which is the Japanese pronunciation of ‘ice’. アイス (aisu) is classified into a few types: アイスクリーム (aisu kuri-mu), アイスミルク (aisu miruku), ラクトアイス (rakuto aisu), and 氷菓 (hyouka) in order of most to least fat content. Other types of frozen desserts include ソフト (sofuto), which is soft serve, and かき氷 (kaki go-ri), which is shaved ice covered in syrup and other toppings. There are many stores that specialize in different types of frozen food, and summer is a great time to explore them!

2. Dress for the weather with Cool Business (クールビズ)

Another way to deal with the heat is simply to dress for it. There is even a name for this, called クールビズ (ku-ru bizu), which derives from “Cool Business”. This is a campaign by the Ministry of the Environment aiming to reduce air conditioning use by promoting lighter clothing during hot days. Those working in offices can probably imagine how dreadful it would be to commute in the heat with a full suit and tie, especially in crowded trains with weak air conditioning. With クールビズ (ku-ru bizu), people are encouraged to wear clothing that is suitable for room temperatures of 28°C, the recommended temperature by the government. 

For casual cool clothing,

Uniqlo also has a clothing range called AIRism consisting of tops, bottoms, loungewear and innerwear. The material they use instantly abrorbs and diffuses sweat while protecting you against the UV. The line is pretty affordable, and we recommend getting their tanktops and breathable innerwear.

3. Get cooling wipes, sprays and lotion

Japan is also known for their innovative products to try. For immediate cooling, head to your nearest drug store or 100 yen shop. During the summer season in Japan, cooling products will usually be displayed on the front, so it won’t be hard to find them.

We recommend getting a small pack of body cooling wipes that, when wiped on your body, will leave a cooling sensation. Biore is the most common brand for this product. Cooling spray and body lotion gives the same affect, but they just use different methods of applicaion. For spray, you can mist it onto your clothes. You can apply cooling body lotion directly to your skin. Either way, you’ll feel a cooling sensation throughout the day. where you just spritz the mist onto an item of clothing, let it dry and wear it outside. The cooling body lotion is another useful product where you apply it to your skin and your body will feel a cool throughout the day.

portable fan for summer in japan

4. Portable and Wearable Fan

If you’ve been to Japan during the summer, it’s not uncommon to see Japanese people carrying small, pastel-colored portable fans. These fans are quite affordable and can be purchased at department stores, online, or at malls.

While most portable fans are handheld, there are also hand-free neck fans available that can be worn around the neck like headphones, allowing you to stay cool without having to hold onto them all the time.

One of the most innovative options is fan-equipped clothing developed by a brand called Kuchofuku (空調服™). This clothing features built-in fans attached to vests and jackets, which draw in outside air and pump it into the upper body, providing a cooling effect. It’s particularly popular among construction workers and laborers who have to work outside in hot weather. However, you may also come across people wearing it casually while strolling around Tokyo!

5. UV-blocking Umbrella for Summer in Japan

In addition to dealing with the heat, protecting the skin from the scorching sunlight is another concern during the summer in Japan. The intense UV rays can be quite damaging, prompting many people to take measures to reduce their exposure. One popular option is using UV-blocking umbrellas and parasols, which can be found in department stores and online. These umbrellas are often lightweight and compact enough to be easily carried in a bag.

6. Stay Hydrated in Japan

Mid-summer heat means sweat — and that means you will perspire a lot. No matter whether you are indoors or outdoors, it is important to keep yourself hydrated to prevent getting heatstroke or dehydration.  Drinking plenty of water is always the right option.  Our trick is to buy the 100 yen 1-liter bottle of water from Family Mart as it is the same price as the small convenience bottles.

Staying hydrated is necessary during the summer, but even more important is maintaining your electrolytes. Electrolytes are often found in sports drinks, and common ones you can find in Japan include Pocari Swear, OS-1 (both are produced by the same company) and Aquarius.

Lastly, we can’t forget 麦茶 (mugicha), the go-to popular summer drink. 麦茶 (mugicha) is barley tea leaning more on the savory side rather than sweet. It is a staple in Japanese homes, often made or bought in large batches to be chilled in the fridge. Since it also contains many minerals, it is perfect for preventing dehydration and heat stroke.

7. Visit the Best Public Waterpark in Tokyo

Next up is pools and waterparks, which are a surefire way to cool down and enjoy the summer. Pools, called プール (pu-ru), can be found all over Japan in either public 市民プール (shimin pu-ru) or private pools in sports centers.

As for waterparks, they are a summer outing that you cannot miss. There are a variety of these amusement parks in Japan that are popular for families and friends in the summer. These parks have swimming pools, water slides, splash pads, lazy rivers, and more to satisfy a wide audience range. Fun fact: lazy rivers are called 流れるプール (nagareru pu-ru), which literally translated to pools that flow.

The most popular water park in Tokyo is Tokyo Summerland. It has both outdoor and indoor pools complete with different slides, attractions, and an amusement park, perfect for a short outing to enjoy the summer heat, even if it’s raining! Those who enjoy thrilling rides will enjoy the main water slide which is 24m tall and 131m long.

A bit further from the inner city is Rainbow Pool at Showa Kinen Park, located in Tachikawa. This is the largest waterpark in the metropolitan area with as many as 9 pools in total. There are plenty of fun facilities there to play with such as spiral slides, a flowing simulated river, and a wave machine. You can arrive there by taking the JR Chuo Rapid line

With at least 20 water parks near Tokyo and many more outside, all with different characteristics and attractions, you can be sure to enjoy your summer to its fullest while embracing the summer heat.

8. Avoid hotter areas, visit cooler areas in Japan

If you would rather avoid the heat than embrace it, you can do that by visiting cooler regions of Japan. The weather and temperature differ by region, and even in the summer you may be able to find cooler and chillier areas.

These chillier areas or hill stations are called 避暑地 (hishochi), where the kanji can be directly translated to “avoid hot place”. Here are a few recommended 避暑地 (hishochi) near Tokyo to visit in the summer:

奥日光 (Oku-Nikko) and 那須高原 (Nasu Kogen) are two popular 避暑地 (hishochi) in 栃木 (Tochigi) prefecture. These two areas are rich with nature and full of historical sites. The three famous waterfalls in 奥日光 (Oku-Nikko) are a must-see, and you can’t miss the many farms in 那須高原 (Nasu Kogen). These spots are a short 新幹線 (shinkansen) ride from Tokyo, and make for perfect short or day trips.

軽井沢 (Karuizawa) in 長野 (Nagano) prefecture may be one of the most popular areas to visit in the summer. With retro style buildings and museums, walking on these streets will make you feel as if you slipped into a different world. There are also shopping centers and other charming stores around the area, so you can take your pick of activities. What’s more, 軽井沢 (Karuizawa) is only a 90min 新幹線 (shinkansen) ride from Tokyo station. 

summer festival in japan

9. Visit a summer firework festival

Those who’ve watched anime or Japanese media may know of 夏祭り (natsu matsuri) and 花火大会 (hanabi taikai), which are summer festival and fireworks festival respectively. These are big summer events that those in Japan look forward to, as it means that people can dress up in 浴衣 (yukata), party with friends, and eat street food, all while watching the fireworks that will make you forget about the heat.

One of the most crowded and popular 花火大会 (hanabi taikai) is the 隅田川花火大会 (Sumidagawa hanabi taikai), held in July every year on the banks of the Sumida river near 浅草 (Asakusa). Approximately 20,000 fireworks are shot during this festival, lighting up the skies next to Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Sky Tree.

You can walk along the stalls called 屋台 (yatai), which sell Japanese street foods like 焼きそば (yakisoba), お好み焼き (okonomiyaki), じゃがバター (jagabataa), 唐揚げ (karaage), たこ焼き (takoyaki), and many more. This is also one of the special occasions where people freely walk and eat, or 食べ歩き (tabearuki). If you don’t feel like being part of the crowd at the 屋台 (yatai), another option is to watch the fireworks from a restaurant near Tokyo Skytree, or ride on a 屋形船 (yakatabune) on the Sumida River right under the fireworks.

Conclusion

Summer in Japan can be terribly hot and humid, sometimes exceeding 30°C. These days, regardless of whether you’re a tourist or stuck in the office, there are so many things that you can do to deal with the summer heat.

Wish to learn more about living in Japan? Check out our blog articles for more tips!

Summer is a good time to study Japanese in Tokyo, so if you are planning to visit Japan during the summer, contact us to join fun, short-term Japanese couses in Shibuya, Tokyo, or Yokohama!

Are there any unique cooling products or inventions in Japan for the summer?

Yes, Japan is known for its innovative cooling products. Some examples include portable handheld fans, neck fans that hang like headphones, and even clothing with built-in fans that circulate air to keep you cool.

Is it advisable to travel to Japan during the summer?

While the summer heat can be intense in Japan, it can still be an enjoyable time to visit because of the summer festivals (matsuri) and food.

Are there any particular regions in Japan with cooler temperatures during summer?

Northern regions such as Hokkaido and mountainous areas like Nagano and Tohoku tend to have cooler temperatures compared to the rest of Japan. Consider visiting these areas for a respite from the summer heat.

How do you stay cool in Japan during the summer?

Try a lot of cooling wipes or spray, wear breathable clothing (like Uniqlo’s AIRism), drink plenty of water, and get a UV-blocking umbrella.

Are there any traditional summer festivals or events I should experience?

Japan hosts vibrant summer festivals known as “matsuri.” These events feature traditional dances, fireworks displays, and street food stalls. Famous festivals include the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto, Tanabata in Sendai, and the Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori.

What are some recommended summer food in Japan?

Chilled noodles like soba or somen, cold tofu dishes, watermelon, shaved ice desserts (kakigori), and various cold teas like matcha or barley tea (mugicha) are popular summer food.


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