Jul 24, 2017
Seven Methods for Not Dying During Summer in Japan, as loosely interpreted from Paloma free paper.
*The actual title is more like 'Seven Ways to Protect Your Body When it's Hot Out.'
I needed this reminder to take care of myself, as I'm not going a very good job lately.
(The daily kakigori only helps so much.)
The article is divided into two sections: Indoors and Outdoors.
1. First, use a 'cool towel' or similar product to keep the back of your neck cool.
There are a couple big blood vessels on the back of the neck that provide blood to the brain. Keeping those cool helps us feel cooler. A wet handkerchief or an ice pack (we can get them for free when buying cold foods sometimes, or at 100 yen stores) wrapped in a towel work great as well.
2. Avoid wearing clothing with dark tones, but cover your arms and legs with lightweight and loose-fitting clothing.
When the sun hits our skin, it makes us feel hotter. It also sometimes results in sunburn. Lots of women in Japan wear 'bike sleeves' and cover up well. If you're going for a tan, be careful and don't forget the sunscreen when you have exposed skin.
Another reason I prefer long sleeves and pants during summer is because when you step inside, it's easy to feel cold after a while if stores or trains are strongly air conditioned.
3. Wear a hat or use a parasol to avoid direct sunlight.
Find hats with ventilation, like the woven straw 'basket hats' that are popular now, or partially mesh ball caps. Parasols are versatile during the wet season, but I've never seen men using them, and they're no fun when you need both your hands free.
4. Fourth, drink plenty of water, but also get enough salt.
There's a balance of salt and water that the body likes to maintain, so if we don't have enough salt, in correlation, we don't keep enough water in our bodies. This is why some sports drinks contain salt and you can see salt lemon candy during summer.
5. Next, block sunlight coming through windows with an outdoor filter or curtain in a dark color.
Some people use affordable sudare (rattan blinds) and tie them up so they can have a shady balcony and keep the house cooler. Others plant fast-growing vines like goya or morning glory under a net angled over their windows for a natural curtain. This helps to keep the indoors cooler by absorbing the heat before it gets inside.
6. Then, air-con and fans can be used moderately, to reduce the temperature inside when it's uncomfortable.
A large difference in temperature between indoors and outdoors can shock our bodies, but when it gets up to body temperature (37 degrees Celsius) outside, we have a risk of heat stroke. I've found that using the air-con just to remove humidity helps a lot, without having a super low setting. In fact, the highest setting for our air conditioning is 30 degrees, and it feels really comfortable compared with around 35 degrees plus high humidity.
7. In the early morning, spread water on the ground outside outside the entrance to your home or on your balcony.
I see people hosing down the streets sometimes and know this helps, but it also seems wasteful. Keeping it to the area just outside of openings makes a little more sense, so when there's a breeze, the water will act as a natural air conditioner. (I haven't tried this, although I do water my balcony plants in the morning, so could give it a try.)
Did you learn anything new? Do you use any of these methods? Which ones work the best for you?