Heatwave Hacks: Tips to Keep Cool During Summer in Japan

Atsui desu ne (It’s hot, isn’t it?) is a common Japanese greeting during summer, which lasts from June to early September. Summer in Japan offers a vibrant atmosphere with various events, delicious food, and unique cultural experiences. However, with temperatures ranging from around 25°C (77°F) to 35°C (95°F) and surging humidity levels, the season can be uncomfortable—and even dangerous during heatwaves. Staying cool can be challenging, but with GoConnect’s recommended tips and hacks to help you beat the heat and stay cool, you will surely have a summer to remember!

Try Modern and Traditional Accessories

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In addition to wearing hats and sunglasses, opting for loose-fitting, light-colored clothing made from breathable, UV-ray blocking fabrics can effectively shield you from the sun while keeping you cool. Uniqlo’s Airism collections, for instance, utilize special materials with ultra-thin fibers that wick away moisture and heat from your skin.

For a delightful touch of traditional Japanese culture, consider using a hand fan (uchiwa or sensu) to stay cool in the heat. Alternatively, portable electric fans are convenient to carry and provide instant relief with just a push of a button. You can easily find uchiwa, sensu, and portable fans at souvenir shops or convenience stores, and they’re a fun and practical way to beat the heat.

Explore Indoor Attractions and Shopping Centers

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In Japan, there is no shortage of indoor attractions, ranging from museums and shopping centers to entertainment complexes, all equipped with refreshing air conditioning. When the summer heat becomes intense, these spaces offer a welcome respite, providing a cooler environment for exploration and enjoyment. Tokyo in particular boasts a diverse array of indoor theme parks, captivating aquariums, and lively entertainment centers like Joypolis in Odaiba and Sunshine Aquarium in Ikebukuro. At places like these, you can have a blast while staying comfortably cool. So, make the most of these delightful indoor havens to escape the scorching temperatures during the hottest parts of the day.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities

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Throughout the country, you’ll find exquisite beaches and coastal areas where the sea breeze and refreshing ocean waters offer a cool retreat. Kamakura and other Shonan beaches are conveniently accessible from Tokyo, promising enjoyable seaside days. Engage in water-based activities like swimming, kayaking, or take a scenic cruise along the Sumida River to relish the surrounding beauty while keeping the heat at bay. Seeking higher altitudes is an option too—venturing to mountainous regions like Hokkaido or the Japanese Alps is a great idea. In Tokyo, don’t miss the opportunity to explore enchanting traditional Japanese gardens such as Kyu Furukawa Gardens and Kyu-Yasuda Teien Garden, which feature ponds and shaded havens that offer a tranquil respite from the urban heat. When night falls, immerse yourself in the exhilarating atmosphere of vibrant festivals and dazzling fireworks displays that make the summer nights truly magical—as well as a perfect break from the scorching daytime temperatures. Don’t miss GoConnect’s list of the top summer festivals around Tokyo.

Check Out Cooling and Sun Blocking Products

For optimal skin protection, make sure to apply sunscreen generously to shield yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. And take advantage of the wide range of products, including cooling wipes, sprays, and gel packs, conveniently found at convenience stores and drugstores. Consider carrying a small, dampened cooling towel with you, which can be placed on your neck or forehead to help lower your body temperature and keep you refreshed throughout the day. Gel-filled neck wraps that can be put in the freezer are also a great option. Alternatively, using a water spray bottle is a simple and effective way to keep cool, especially during hot and humid weather. Adding a few drops of essential oil or aloe vera gel enhances the cooling effect and provides a pleasant fragrance.

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Savor Seasonal Treats 

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After a day of fun in the sun, the perfect way to quench your thirst and relax is with refreshing drinks like iced matcha, fruit smoothies, barley tea, or green tea, which can be served cold. Additionally, indulge in summer staples like shaved ice (kakigori) or soft serve ice cream. Check out the Tokyo soft serve ice cream shop 21niice, which stays open until midnight! Apart from classic chocolate, they offer a delightful variety of Japanese toppings like matcha mont blanc (chestnut cream), black sesame, and even warabi mochi.

Indulge in Japanese Foods

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A venerable summer tradition in Japan is the somen nagashi—catching somen noodles that are carried along in cold water with your chopsticks. As nagashi somen is enjoyed outdoors and is a light, cold alternative to heavier food during the sweltering hot Japanese summer, most places only serve nagashi somen during lunchtime, or into the afternoon hours. Chayakado is a great nagashi somen restaurant that’s about one hour from central Tokyo, near JR Kita-Kamakura Station. Other traditional Japanese dishes like cold soba noodles (zaru soba) or chilled somen can also help you beat the heat.

Read more: Top Summer Festivals in Tokyo in 2023 and Azabu-Juban Uncovered: Experience Expat Paradise in the Heart of Minato-ku

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