How Japan Is Beating The Heat This Summer

How Japan Is Beating The Heat This Summer

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Man fanning himself to beat the heat
Picture: ABC / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
It's HOT! As heat advisories sweep Japan, people are finding new and unique ways to keep cool - and stay safe.

This summer, the whole world is feeling the heat. Musicians and sports teams are canceling outdoor events in the wake of unsustainable temps. Planes are limiting passenger loads as the hotter air makes it harder to fly. Wildfires have spread across huge swaths of North America and Europe.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) predicts that the summer’s temperature will break multiple previous records. The entire Northern Hemisphere is currently affected by one of the most severe and dangerous heat waves ever recorded. [1]

Japan is no exception.

Heat Wave Hits Japan

Girl laying in front of a fan
Picture: / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

On July 17, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued extreme heat warnings in six of Japan’s regions. Only Hokkaido and Tohoku are exempt.

The warning indicated that temperatures in central, western, and southern Japan could reach as high as 40 degrees Celsius / 104 degrees Fahrenheit. They encouraged the population to stay inside, hydrate, and wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing when outside activities could not be avoided. The JMO also predicted that public transportation disruptions could occur, as extreme heat could cause train tracks to warp. [2]

In addition to the solutions advocated by the JMA, Japan’s people have come up with several unique ways of handling the unprecedented heat.


Umbrellas have continued to see wide use even after the end of the rainy season. Handheld devices like personal fans and neck coolers have become popular. Some stores have installed misters to keep customers cool. The iconic mushroom-shaped snack, “Kinoko no Yama,” has even released a “Naked” version which lacks the snack’s traditional chocolate cap so that it doesn’t melt in the heat!

Under My Sun-Brella, brella

The rainy season has officially come to an end in all regions of Japan, says the JMA. However, that hasn’t stopped people from bringing umbrellas with them nearly everywhere they go. As the sun beats down, a horde of umbrellas moves through downtown Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and other major Japanese cities.

The “sun umbrella” is a primarily Japan-exclusive trend that involves carrying an umbrella in hot, sunny weather. While some people will purchase and use paper parasols for this purpose, others rely on thicker cloth or nylon umbrellas similar to those used during the rainy season. Originally, companies marketed sun umbrellas to women as a way to block UV rays and prevent sunburn. However, recently, due to the extreme heat, many men have begun to purchase and use sun umbrellas as well. [3]

Gadgets & gizmos

Neck fan
Neck fans have grown in popularity in Japan in recent years. (Picture: Amazon)

If you walk into a Japanese department or variety store like Don Quijote, you will be met with shelves upon shelves of products designed to beat the heat. Japan is known for its gadgets and technology, and staying cool is no exception. Customers in Japan can choose from a wide variety of items meant to help them keep cool during this record-breaking summer.

Cooling face and eye masks are treated with menthol to produce a cooling effect directly against the skin. People use neck belts to store ice blocks or packs, keeping the vulnerable back of the neck cool and sun-free.

Many brands produce one-use towels designed to remove sweat and leave the skin feeling temporarily refreshed. Some brands even sell “dry shampoo wipes” that customers use to wipe oil and grease out of hair while out and about. Many of these products are extremely cheap, costing 1000 yen or less. Some are even found on the shelves of Japan’s 100-yen stores!

Summer Snacks

Kakigori (shaved ice)
Picture: チリーズ / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Of course, one of the most fun ways to keep cool is by eating tasty treats. Japan is no exception! Arguably, Japan’s signature summer dish is kakigori. Summer festivals serve this shaved ice, which is available in a rainbow of flavors.

Ice cream is also popular, with 7-11 and other convenience stores featuring enormous freezers and ice chests filled with frozen treats. And the “naked” Kinoko no Yama aren’t the only unique snacks debuting in the summer heat. Iconic candy brand Morinaga has come out with “salt tablets” that can help people stay hydrated even in the midst of a heat wave.

However, Japan is no slouch when it comes to heat-busting savory foods as well. Cold somen, zaru soba, and zaru udon noodles are filling and nourishing while remaining chilly. Hiyayakko, or chilled tofu, makes a nutritious light snack. Umeboshi, aka pickled plums, are also believed to enhance appetite and energy in hot weather due to their high citric acid content.

Unfortunately, the heat wave hitting the Northern Hemisphere is currently predicted to continue throughout the summer. However, if you’re looking to stay cool, why not take a leaf out of Japan’s book and grab a sun umbrella or some tasty shaved ice? With the tips provided in this article, you can stay cool Japan-style all summer long!

Sun Umbrellas in Japan Becoming Genderless Apparel


[1] World Meteorological Organization. “Simultaneous heatwaves hit northern hemisphere in summer of extremes.”

[2] JMA Heatwave Alerts.

[3] Yougasa Times.

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Kay Benton

Kay is a longtime Japan enthusiast and former participant in the JET Program. Their favorite thing to do when traveling in Japan is visiting as many onsens as possible.

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