Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer in Japan: A Survival Guide

It's mid-August, and the heat and humidity are peaking right now. I've never experienced such suffocating weather before, not even in Seoul. I've *almost* survived my first Japanese summer, so here are my tips:

Mizu, Mizu
Which means water. Hydrate, hydrate. Water, green tea, sports drinks... thankfully vending machines are just about everywhere in Japan, and the selection is always kind of exciting, so you should never be stuck without liquids. Convenience stores are on every corner (well, not in my rural area), but they also stock an impressive selection of drinks.

Dab, Dab
That little designer handkerchief will sure come handy. Not only to dry your hands or wipe your fingers after eating onigiri, but mostly to dab your face and neck while waiting for the train. Maybe use separate towels for those tasks...

Waterproof, waterproof
No need to spend much time on hair and makeup, since it's a waste of time. I just let my hair air-dry, and for the first time in my life I do love my natural waves... or lion mane. As for makeup, if you must, waterproof it. Japan has an amazing selection of local brands, and weird things such as eyeliner that stays on for 24 hours. I must say, I love how Japan understands the need to stay pretty, even in the worst August heat.

Dress... not to impress
I used to be so self-conscious about showing my shoulders and getting disapproving stares from the elderly, but well, my Canadian body is not designed for this kind of weather. So yes, I do show my shoulders, I wear sundresses, and I do have a nice tan now. Being comfortable is key.

Become a vampire
Avoid being outdoors if you don't need to be, and avoid the sunlight. I go running late at night, and try to run most of my errands when the sun is down. Maybe it's just me. But this weather is exhausting.

And, lastly, dance to my favourite summer jam:


Kristina said...

i know this type of heat from singapore, the high humidity is what really killed me... good luck for the rest of the summer heat, maybe you can some of it to Switzerland??
viele grüsse, kristina

French lover said...

This is exactly what we did ;-)
We stopped for water/green tea/whatever weird drink we felt like buying every hour or so.
I bought a very tacky looking Hello Kitty handkerchief to dab my face (you quickly get the hang of it) and relied on braids for my hair and mascara only for my face.
I was very surprised to see women in black synthetic tights even though it was over 35°c in the city... although I did end up wearing leggings once or twice after being attacked several times by mosquitos (my legs were literally blue: I'm allergic)..

French lover said...

Ah, et mes brumisateurs Evian et L'Occitane à la rose étaient mes meilleurs amis ;-)

Anonymous said...

Apparently the East Coast has been pure hell this year (worse than the last few summers), so I'm really happy that I get to have my summers in Europe! But if I were there, I'd definitely be adopting the hanky idea :-)

{lovely little things} said...

Yep that pretty much sums it up, we were sweating like crazy in the humidity there!

Anonymous said...


Tee, Passports and Postcards said...

That sounds like Thailand...except we endure the heat and humidity year round :(

Annika said...

Konban wa Vivian, I am just living in Matsumoto for a clerkship/summer vacation and your tips about how to survive in the Japanese summer are really true, I got sunburned from just cycling to the supermarket, unbelievable in Germany(where I come from). By the way, I really love to read your blog, especially during my travel preparations and nw where I actually am in lovely Japan.
By the way, di you know a nice and hopefully not that expensive youth hostel in Hiroshima?
Sayonara and greetings fron Matsumoto

Vivian said...

Hi Annika!! Thanks for your lovely comment! I hope you enjoy your time in Japan, it's a fun place, isn't it?!

Here is my favourite Youth hostel in Hiroshima: very cheap (try the female dorm, only 2300 a night), very clean, and amazing location a few steps from the Peace Park:

Have fun! x

Annika said...

Arigato gozaimas, Vivian!
I just made a reservation for J Hoppers Hiroshima, anata no o-susume. The location sounds kanpeki! Thank you very much and yes, Japan is amazing!I am so envious that you are staying for such a long time and I wish, I was too!
Enjoy your summer, atsui, desu ne?But still, just wonderful!
Greetings from Matsumoto