Top Ten Tips
It just started getting hot in Sendai (we're having a great summer weather-wise) so a post on staying cool seems appropriate. Can't be writing about the stock market all the time ;)
So here are my top ten tips to stay cool in the Japanese summer.
Go outside and do some exercise
This encourages your body to adapt to the heat, reducing subcutaneous fat and improving the efficiency of your sweating. It'll make the rest of your life more pleasant. Make sure you drink buckets of water though!
Okay, so this is the opposite of doing exercise. When you are not exercising, move slowly and deliberately. Breathe deeply. Don't run, walk fast, or rush. Keep in the shade. If you heat yourself up by running for a train or something you'll be hot all day. Instead, become the summer breeze.
Minimize heat production in your home
Turn off lights and appliances. Try not to cook, but if you do, turn on the extractor fan. Don't watch TV (see this great blog post on TV power consumption and heat production in Japan). Put up screens outside if you get direct sunlight onto your windows.
Eat hiyashi chuuka
Cold noodles with egg, pork, vegetables, and a wonderful tart sauce. This really is the taste of summer for me.
Understand your air conditioner
Use your air conditioner skillfully to conserve electricity and maximise comfort. See this article for a lot more detail.
Use electric fans
Electric fans have negligible power consumption, so use them instead of air-conditioning when possible. You can try my low-tech air-con pictured above: a bottle full of ice condenses the moisture in the air the fan blows towards you and lowers its temperature making it more refreshing -you need the bowl to collect the condensation though :)
Get a bamboo sheet
This is by far my favourite thing for summer. Made up of small bamboo tiles, the bamboo sheet is cool to lie on, raises you off your sheets allowing air to circulate under your body, and makes sleeping in hot rooms infinitely more pleasant. Best of all, if your partner likes being hot (like my wife) the bamboo sheet is individual, so I have mine and she doesn't need one. One caveat: skin and hairs can get stuck between the tiles and pinched, and some people really don't like that. But if you are compatible this will be one of the best 2-3000 yen you spend this summer.
These summer shorts, made of really light material, are wonderful. I have three pairs and basically just wear them all the time at home. If I am forced to go out I will try to wear my suteteko unless my wife or daughters object and I am forced to wear something more formal.
Go and play in water
Going to the beach, an outdoor pool, or a river or stream is the perfect way to cool off in summer.
Wear jinbei and sandals
What could be more formal than traditional Japanese summer wear? Jinbei are designed to be cool in the summer heat, and best of all, are cheap and come in a huge range of designs. Perfect for strolling around the neighbourhood or going to summer festivals. I wear mine all the time when I am forced to put on something other than my suteteko. Sandals of course, allow you to avoid wearing socks.
Any other good hints on how to stay cool in summer?