After the rainy season (Tsuyu) in June and July is over, the full heat of summer hits Japan. Average temperatures soar to around 30 celcius and humidity reaches 70％.
Needless to say, this heat and humidity can be unbearable and we need more than a cold kakigōri (shaved ice dessert flavored with syrup) to survive!
Photo credit: TimeOut Tokyo
Nowadays, an air conditioner is essential to survive summer. However, Japanese people have used many different ways to cool off since ancient times.
Find out about some popular traditional methods used during the summer in Japan.
Many people use curtains in their house to block the heat and lights from the outside, but sudare (screens) have been used in Japan since the Nara era (8th century), instead of curtains.
Sudare are usually made of thin strips of wood, which are laid flat and tied together to make a curtain-like screen. By hanging sudare from the top of the window frame, you can block the heat of the sun and stop insects coming into the room while allowing a cool breeze to pass through the spaces between the wooden slats.
Many people grow vines such as loofah, bitter gourd and so on up the outside walls and windows of their houses to create 'green walls.'
Green walls reduce the overall temperature of buildings and block them from the sun. This method is used not only to reduce heat, but also to add elegance and charm to a building.
In Japan, many elementary and junior high school create green walls as a part of the class. Children learn the how to grow plants and how it affects the environment through creating the green walls.🌱 And after the plants withered, students will make scrubbing brush with loofah and eat bitter gourd in some schools.
Uchimizu is the custom of sprinkling water in gardens and on the street to make the passing wind cooler.
People see uchimizu as a practical way of cooling the breeze while continuing an aesthetically pleasing and courteous custom.
Sprinkling water with a ladle also reduces dust from dry roads and the ground underfoot.
Japan, as a country, is recommending Uchi-mizu, and the government is running “Uchi-mizu Projects” every year because it is the easiest way to cool down the town and also sprinkling the water is very fun!
Try by yourself if is it hot in your town, but remember to use rain water or used water to save the water environment.
There are two types of Japanese fans - uchiwa and sensu. Uchiwa originated in China while sensu are a type of Japanese fan.
The difference is in their shapes. Usually uchiwa have a round shape, with a frame of thinly split splayed bamboo onto which paper is glued.
It is very common to see these fans at summer festivals (matsuri) - companies will often hand them out to attendees as a gift, with their company logo printed on them.
Sensu opens to a full traditional fan shape, but closed, it is very compact. The shape of the opened sensu is described as "broadening toward the end," which symbolizes rising prosperity.
It is very common to see men and women using this type of fan to cools themselves on busy public transport during summer.
Furin is a small bell made of metal or porcelain that hangs outside and rings in the wind, giving a poetic charm to the Japanese summers.
In the sultry summer season people hang wind-bells from the edge of their eaves and enjoy the cool when the furins swing and ring in the breeze.
The strip of paper (tanzaku) swings and causes the clapper to hit the bell, and the bell ring.
In our August Summer Festival Stationery Pack we have both a Sanrio uchiwa letter set and furrin washi tape for you to enjoy!
These 5 cooling tips have been used since ancient times in Japan.
Nowadays, there are many more useful items, as well as lots of summer foods to cool yourself down!