Kyudo · Uncategorized

Cracking Open & Surviving a Japanese Summer

Picture found at
Picture found at

Crack your mind,

Trust your bones,

Let the bow tear you in half.

The sky rains heavy red drops,

your shoulders want to buckle,

the mind’s devils ply you to succumb,

but “No”.

Alive, elbows expand, standing erect,

Above and around, before and after the arrow, big mind encapsulates all,

Your beast will win.

How does one survive a Japanese summer?!

Coming from the Pacific Northwest in the U.S., the summer  here is otherworldly. I’ve felt heat before, but not like this. And the humidity? I didn’t know this was possible on earth!

I’m going into my fifth summer here in Japan, and am still trying to figure out how I’m going to survive it.

Here I’ll bulletpoint some tips I’m planning to use, and maybe they’ll help you out as well.

Ice – Ice in your drinks, whatever it may be. Keep the freezer full of ice cubes at all times and don’t be scant. Chew ice when you’re hot. Or put it in a towel to wrap around some part of your body. Actually in Japan they have these cold towels that retain their cool temperature, but I don’t have any.

Cold Tea – I’ve just recently found tea that you can put in cold water. Is that new? Or do I just live oblivious?

Bright Clothing – Reds, blues, pinks, Hawaiian shirts are the ideal I suppose.

Loose Clothing – Get the wind through your clothes when you move and not something that will stick to you with sweat. The Japanese got it right with their jimbe summer outfits.

Keep it Clean – Good clean smells keep you cool for some reason, so we’ve got this great “fresh bamboo” air freshener about and definitely washing all clothes and towels after one use. I’ll stretch it out longer depending on the wear in colder seasons, but this won’t do in summer. I want fresh things to wear with anti-sweat or stink when I get started.

White – White walls, sheets, curtains, towels … clean white.

Green Plants – The more the better the cooler.

Hand Fans – You could get one of the fancy traditional Japanese fans called sensu, or you can just get a more common uchiwa for less than a hundred yen.

Wind Chime – Don’t have one, but I want one.

Hand Towels – Wherever you go, don’t be without one. No matter where you go or what you do, sweat will fall and stink will form, so be ready to wipe it off at everychance. Stay ahead of the game.

Electric Fans – Don’t have one now, thinking of buying one, something to keep the air moving in Japanese homes/apartments which are so good at trapping it in.

Effectively Using Air Conditioners – I’m not one to fully combat using air conditioners like some stronger friends of mine, but I will try to minimize it. The key to this is the timer. The only time I’ve used the air conditioner lately is at night before I go to bed and I set it on for one hour and then it automatically shuts off on its own. I’ll sometimes wake up to set it for another hour, but it’s better than cranking it all the night through.

Body Wipes – Now I’m getting into ground I’m not a huge fan of, but this isn’t a happy kind-of-hot girly list for girls, dealing with the summer here is like going to war, and it’s not always as pretty as you want. So you get the chemical body wipes to substitute for the shower you want but don’t have time or space for. They cool you down and help with the smell better than just being hot and sweaty and pungent.

So that’s basically it. I just asked my wife what she thought and she said:

Just don’t think it’s hot.”

Wow, who’s the big pussy now. If you’re strong like her then, just don’t think it’s hot, and if you’re a big baby like me, check out my tips and put them into action.

What do YOU do to survive the Japanese summer!? Comment and let me know.



9 thoughts on “Cracking Open & Surviving a Japanese Summer

  1. A friend just yesterday said, “Well, at least I’m not cold.”

    I keep a half full Nalgene bottle in the freezer, which I then add water to for a super chilled drink. Plus you can rest it on your head or the back of your neck as well.

  2. Well, no air conditioning here in Hokkaido, so we make do with cross ventilation. In the depths of it the heat and humidity, when there is no wind (August, before obon), a fan or “circulator” that just keeps air moving, but we haven’t had to use that yet this year. Another thing is to stay low in the room. Follow tradition. Sit on the floor. It’s cooler down there. Oh, and if you’re working at your computer, you know there are these little fans that plug into a powered USB port. Kind of nice. And for sleep you can get at towel-ketto, a blanket made of towel-like material. Also remember you can put something other than water in an ice cube tray. Try fruit juice. Yum. My favourite is mango puree.

    But then, as a desert rat, I kind of go along with “Don’t think it’s hot.” Slow down. What ever it takes, walk slow enough that you don’t really get hot and sweaty. It’s not so hard in the countryside, but in the cities.. well, a different world. On the other hand, in the cities there are cafes and the like that do have air conditioning, so you can duck in there. Unfortunately going to cafes is pricey. They know why people are there and it’s not the coffee…

    I knew some people who would actually soak a sheet in water, wring it out, and use that at night instead of a blanket. The evaporation would keep them cool. I tried it once, but didn’t like it.

    Think cool!

    1. Hokkaido summer … I have to admit I submit to the southern belief that Hokkaido is a cool haven in summer, but somehow know better, and that nowhere in this country can completely escape the heat. You give good tips! I might try soaking the sheet in water, but I would think it would all just be a swamp. I’m one that can’t just stay out of the heat

      1. cut myself off there somehow … anyway … without a car of my own and kyudo dojos and workplaces far from stations keep me in and out of the sun indefinitely. Anyway, thanks for contributing!

  3. Maybe Hokkaido was once a permanently cool haven, but not any more. 30C+ days aren’t all that unusual, but the difference is that, most of the time, the humidity is low enough that, once the sun goes down, it cools off nicely. And a cool breeze never hurts! But the dojo, yeah… bringing home sweat-soaked dogi after every practice session is a bit annoying. I’m looking forward to the cooler weather, but before that, August.

    1. Daaammmnnn, down in Kyushu, it’s the nights that get me the most. I can understand hot days, and even ridiculous humidity, but sweating in heavy humidity while I sleep! Too much. I’m moving north someday. Good luck to us both until fall.

  4. I barely survive, and every year I swear “next year I’m going somewhere colder until September” but every year I turn out to be as broke as I was the year before.

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