Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Coping With Summer Heat and Humidity in Japan

It's been so hot and humid lately!  I've put my weather app in celsius to teach myself the metric system and for the most part it's working, but some days I still have to convert it before I can decide what to wear.  For the past week it's been in the 90's, but the heat index got up to 115 on Saturday and Sunday.  I miss central air constantly, but I think that's actually only a small part of why the heat bothers me more here.  Not having a car, I spend a lot more time outdoors walking (and let me tell you, dragging home heavy bags of groceries when I'm dripping sweat is my new least favorite activity).  Trains are better, but especially when they're crowded it's hard to keep them cool, and though underground platforms are cooler, the outdoor ones can be pretty bad.  Coming from the south-eastern US I think I'm also just used to a much higher level of air conditioning.

Luckily, Japan actually has a lot of useful coping mechanisms for dealing with the heat and humidity.  My favorite discovery (thank you Raku) would be powder sheets, or shower sheets.  These are essentially wet wipes with rubbing alcohol and baby powder in them, that make you instantly feel clean, cool, and dry.  They come in a million different versions with different scents and additions like deodorant, antiperspirant, or menthol for a tingly cool feeling.   There is nothing so refreshing when you've walked a long way and feel gross but want to look and feel presentable.  My favorite are the soap scented Biore powder sheets in the pink package.

Besides powder sheets a lot of people carry a small sweat towel, essentially a wash cloth, around with them to mop up all the sweat.  I'm not as big a fan of this method, though they're also useful for drying your hands in public restrooms.  It might seem strange, but there are many cute sweat towels and I frequently see women using them.

I got a free one with some cranberry juice
Lots of women here use parasols.  At first I thought they were just trying to keep their skin as pale as possible (and that's probably still a big part of their motivation), but wouldn't you rather walk around in your personal spot of shade rather than in scorching direct sunlight?  Look for the cloth umbrellas that mention UV protection (and don't make the mistake of using them in the rain - unless yours does double duty).

Even just having a fan can be a huge help.  They're so small and light it's no problem to slip one in a purse.

This was a gift from Ellie's exchange student

But if you don't carry a purse, or you happen to forget your fan, don't worry - lots of businesses hand out plastic fans as advertisements.

Humidity can also be a major problem.  Since we only run the air conditioning when we're in a specific room the humidity levels soar in the apartment when we're out.  John noticed that his shirts were starting to smell a little musty, so I started looking for a solution.  Turns out, you can buy little sheets of desiccant packets meant for closets, drawers, and even to put under futon mattresses.  I got these at a 100 yen store.

Besides fighting dampness in our drawers I've been waging a war with mildew growing around the sink and bathtub drains from the higher temperatures and humidity indoors.  Sadly the only solution for that seems to be more scrubbing. 

No comments:

Post a Comment