Jul 15, 2018

Japan's aversion to air conditioning

It's hot, hot, hot outside (if you hadn't noticed!) so my family and I decided to head out to one of our favorite nearby museums this morning. We had figured that being inside, in an air conditioned and entertaining space would be the perfect way to spend a bit of time on a Sunday. Genius, we thought!

Japan's aversion to air conditioning photo

Except...the air conditioning didn't exist.

We'd been to this particular museum before, but in the cooler months - and I guess we had just assumed that on a day that was forecast to hit 35 degrees celsius that air conditioning would be a given, since it certainly would be the case back home. They had a couple of windows cracked, and that was it....and we were sweating buckets! 

It got me thinking though - what is with Japan's aversion to air conditioning? I'm sure I had read somewhere that part of it was in response to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and the widespread efforts across the country to conserve power. We also have Japanese friends who refuse to sleep with the air conditioning on (even on the most sweltering of summer days), because they believe that sleeping with the air conditioning on will cause them to get sick. My husband and I don't know how we (or our kids!) would sleep at all through the summer months here without the aid of A/C!

The average "air conditioned" temperature in offices here is 28 degrees celsius - as an interesting contrast, Australian occupational health and safety regulations note that 21-22 degrees celsius is the optimal office workplace temperature. The regulations for Australia also note that anywhere outside the bounds of 20-26 celsius often causes discomfort and productivity to drop!

I do think we've acclimatized to the lack of air conditioning here slightly - we certainly don't find ourselves needing rooms to be cooled to ice-box standards anymore. But going without it completely during the summer months in Japan seems akin to a slow form of torture.

How do you find Japan's attitudes to air conditioning in your workplace, on public transportation, or in public venues like shopping centers and museums? 



After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!

1 Comment

  • edthethe

    on Jul 15

    When I first moved here, none of the classrooms I taught had airconditioning. I am so used to freezing inside and melting outside that sometimes I wish I could walk around a Walmart in the states just for the air conditioning