This is part two of a three-part series called Sweatiquette! It’s all about ways to beat the heat during a Japanese summer including some etiquette tips. Thanks for reading!
Did you miss Part 1 – Six ways to deal with sweat during a Japanese summer?
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Last week, Edmonton and Calgary were hot, hot, hot! Temperatures rose past +30 Celsius, which is pretty toasty for late June in Alberta. But it really wasn’t that bad because, after all, it was a ***dry*** heat.
Have you heard of this before? This would be the opposite of a wet heat, although I’ve never heard anyone say that. People would just say it’s humid, sticky, too hot, yucky, ick, etc.
But a dry heat is special. The temperature keeps rising and you are a big ol’ loaf of bread sitting in an oven with the door locked tight. An angry furnace blasts you with hot air, but for us cold weather folk used to -25 Celsius in the winter, it’s the wrong season.
Alberta is no desert (except for the badlands) but man, does it ever feel like one in the summer, especially on those über dry heat days.
Your throat dries up <ack ack>, your lips crack and peel off like a bad sunburn (eww), and your cheeks turn bright red. And you get grumpy. Really grumpy.
But it’s seriously not that bad because, say it with me now, it’s a dry heat.
8 more ways to sweat with grace in Japan
Sorry dry heat fans, Japan will have none of that. It’s all sticky, “mushi atsui” (a fantastic Japanese phrase to mean super, duper, steamy hot) all. the. time.
Part 1 of this three-part series introduced strategies to sweat like a pro. Here are eight more from the common sense to the more unusual.
#7 – Arm guards
Are you puzzled? Well, imagine something just like it sounds. Long cloth tubes for your lower arms. Elastic at the wrist and upper arm hold them in place.
It’s important not to skimp when covering up so dig out a long-sleeved shirt and then pull those arm guards over top to make sure no skin is left exposed.
Women of all ages wear these, even in the city. Guards are available at 100 yen shops, clothing and department stores and home centres. They come in different patterns and materials including faux lace.
#8 – Sunglasses
When I lived in Japan, a new boss balked when he saw a picture of me in shades.
He told me that only yakuza wore them. “Japanese mafia” was the most consistent translation of yakuza I originally heard. I sighed and kept silent, waiting to see if there would be any repercussions.
On the first day of work, senior staff were visibly relieved when I showed up sans shades but the experience left me feeling odd.
However, like the increase of credit cards, more people seem to be wearing sunglasses in Japan. Maybe the sunlight is more intense? Maybe it’s trendy? Maybe I started the trend? If you know or have an idea, please comment.
#9 – Konbini or Convenience Stores
When you are sweaty, cranky, and unable to stand the heat one second longer, dash inside the nearest konbini for some cold air, a drink and a toilet stop.
Employees will not ask you to leave, even if you stay awhile. The toilets are free and it’s rare to find one that isn’t super clean.
Stores are only so big but that hasn’t stopped Hitoshi and I from spending a good hour looking at every last product, simply for some relief.
And please don’t forget to stop at the ice cream section! The top three treats in my books are Parm, Coolish, and Pino (in that order).
#10 – Public Transportation
Hitoshi and I love to walk wherever we are. It allows us to scamper down side streets, stop and go when and where we wish and travel at whatever pace suits the day.
I also refuse to take a bus for a block. Why pay if I can walk? Taking the bus is plain wimpy.
Visiting Japan straddling July and August was my breaking point.
Limp and unable to stand the thick, soupy heat for even one block in Fukuoka, I despaired. How would we be able to see the city if I could not last 3 minutes without becoming a whiny mess?
After some pouting and calculating of our travel budget in my head, I relented.
We ended up buying daily passes for public transportation wherever we could and traded a little freedom of movement for air-conditioning. These moments were some of the best parts of the trip. (Wimp status proudly accepted.)
#11 – Water
This is obvious. Drink water and stay alive.
But do you know where to find free drinking water? My favorite spots are department store bathrooms. Almost always, a water fountain will be just outside. The water is cold, delicious and welcome.
Many parks also have water fountains.
So do train and subway stations. Sometimes they are on the platforms. If you’re a real disaster, you can have a mini sponge bath after your drink at the nearby sink.
#12 – Kakigori or shaved ice
If you grew up in Canada or the US (or maybe elsewhere?), did you have (or envy someone who had) the Snoopy Sno-cone Machine? (Snoopy is the adorable dog from the Peanuts comics by Charles M. Schulz.)
The machine was a simple gadget meant for kids. White, plastic and in the shape of Snoopy’s doghouse, the best part was the dangerous circular ice shaver inside.
Throw ice cubes in the top (of Snoopy’s house), turn the red handle, and make a ridiculous racket creating glorious slushy bits. Squeeze obnoxiously colored liquid sugar syrup on top and you’ve got a brain freeze on the way.
In the Japanese version, a big block of ice is shaved by hand or with a crank or electric machine into a cup or bowl. The bowl version can get over-the-top huge, like a mini Mount Fuji!
Syrup is then poured on top, just like the Snoopy Sno-cone version. I recommend strawberry or ichigo.
Cradle the ice in your hands and eat it as quickly as it melts! It’s guaranteed to send a shiver down your spine.
#13 – Aburatoridami or oil blotting papers
Does your forehead compete with any nearby shiny things? Don’t worry. You’re in good company. And oil blotting papers could be your new best friend.
They work pretty well for absorbing light sweat and are easily available. I bought the Hello Kitty ones in the picture from the 100 Yen store.
Can men use them? Of course! Anyone can and people use them all year round.
#14 – Onsen (hot springs) or ofuro (a bath)
How sitting in super heated water can cool you down when you’re already melting inside is verging on weird. But it surprisingly works. It really does!
How about you? What do you do to stay cool wherever you are? Have you tried any of these tips?
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