Surviving the Rainy Season in Japan: 40 tips

The Unconventional How-To Guide for Living in Japan 

Rainy day in Shibuya, Tokyo

Photo of people near the Shibuya cross in Tokyo in a rainy day.

Now that the rainy season has arrived, what perfect timing to discuss how to survive this time of heat, moisture and sweat. And now, 40 ways to survive the rainy season in Japan:

1. Buy an air conditioner. Although, you may find buying a car is a better investment.

2. Try an electric fan (or two, three… or ten). Fans are a great alternative if you wish to avoid using an air conditioner, because of its harmful effects on the environment. *Tip: put a bowl of ice in front of the fan for cooler air.

3. Go out. Take advantage of the A/C spewing out in every public building and mode of transportation – on the train, in restaurants, at the mall, in movie theaters. Sure, you have to spend a little, but it’s cheaper than buying an air conditioner (unless you REALLY like to shop).

4. Don’t go out. Contrary to #2, if you own and use an air conditioner, why not stay in?

5. Carry a “sweat” towel. Everyone uses them. You will need it. The day you forget is a day you’ll regret. (I know, so cheesy. But seriously, forgetting the towel can be miserable, especially when you resort to wiping sweat off on your already-sweaty clothes).

6. Drink lots of water. Carry a water bottle. Of course, vending machines everywhere make it nearly impossible to become dehydrated, but why not show the earth you care? Especially if you own and use an air conditioner. Either that or carry a crap-load of change (although, this is inevitable in Japan).

7. Buy a pretty hand fan (団扇, uchiwa or 扇子, sensu). Or just take the free, plastic ones people pass out at train stations.

8. Eat hiyashi chuuka. And zarusoba. And somen. Basically, just eat cold noodles.

9. Indulge in soft cream. Here’s your chance to try every flavor you’ve ever wanted for the sake of staying cool. Lactose-intolerant? Avoiding dairy? Uh, well, see #19. Try fro-yo or sorbet instead.

10. Use an umbrella. They aren’t just for rain in Japan! Then again, it IS the rainy season, so the umbrella is dual-purpose.

11. Camp out at the beach. Although, if the ground starts shaking: run. Away from the beach.

12. Get a haircut. As short as possible.

13. Accept the fact that your hair will not behave and frizz out for the next few months.

14. Go swimming. (does it even need to be said…)

15. Head to the hills. It’s just cooler. At least, in the woods, not on the face of a mountain with no tree cover.

16. Brace yourself for bugs. They come in droves.

17. Buy a mosquito net for your bed. If you are like me and attract mosquitoes all the time, especially at night while sleeping, get something. (alternatively, see the Mosquito Repellent post below)

18. If you don’t buy a net, accept the fact that you probably won’t sleep well due to mosquitoes until summer is over. If you sleep like a rock, well, you’ll just have to deal with itchy bites. Unless your one of those lucky jerks who seem to repel mosquitoes. I wish I was you.

*For a complete guide on how to keep away mosquitoes this summer in Japan, try A Survival Guide to Mosquito Repellent in Japan. And for those annoying bites, How to Find Anti-itch, Insect Medicine in Japan.

19. Buy an ice cream maker from Amazon.jp. (Be sure to check your freezer space first – if you even have a freezer…)

20. Take two showers a day. (No, this isn’t green, but you’ll need them).

21. Visit an onsen or sento. Clean off the sweat and whatever else is sticking to you.

22. Accept the fact that people will repeatedly say “atsui desu ne” (暑いですね, it’s hot, isn’t it) for the next few months. Even if you and they are all sweating in a room, with thick, stagnant air and it’s incredibly obvious that you are all experiencing heat exhaustion, someone will still pipe up, “it’s hot, isn’t it?”

23. Don’t sit in a school gymnasium with the entire student body if the sliding doors are shut. Don’t do it.

24. Drink ocha (green tea) and mugicha (barley tea) and the many other cold teas.

25. Wear deodorant. (Obviously)

*Can’t find deodorant? Try, How to Find (Good) Deodorant in Japan

26. Take a trip. Go anywhere that doesn’t have a rainy season, or is currently in the middle of winter.

27. Accept the fact that your sweat will rarely leave your body unless you are carrying around that sweat towel.

28. Wear quick drying clothes. Spend tons on nice clothes through an outdoor retailer, or just go to Uniqlo.

29. Mold will grow everywhere. Keep your living area aired out. Put produce in a crisper or fridge.

30. Carry around wet wipes. These are great for any time of the year, but you may find them more necessary in summer when out and about.

31. Carry extra clothes. Always have a rain jacket, if not a small umbrella. Extra socks and/or sandals may also come in handy. An extra shirt and pants or shorts may also be useful if you find yourself soaked (either from rain or your own sweat).

32. Grab those packs of tissues everyone hands out near train stations. Never know when you’ll need them.

33. Buy a blender.

34. Make smoothies with the blender. Buy frozen fruit from The Flying Pig, and/or freeze your own, add veggies and whatever else for a nice chilled treat.

35. Wear crocs. Everyone wears them here, particularly during summer and the rainy season. Waterproof, cheap, and… stylish? When in Rome…

36. Buy some sweat pads.

37. Drink sports drinks. And eat food with soy sauce. Make sure you replenish the salt you’re losing, especially if you have low blood pressure. (Of course, if you have high blood pressure, forget this entirely.)

38. Take cold showers or baths. 

39. Use a Laundromat, an air dryer, or a dehumidifier to dry your clothes and bedding if you need them right away. You can hang them outside (as is custom here), but be prepared for longer drying time.

40. Live in Hokkaido. They don’t even have a rainy season. (Uh, but winter is an entirely different story…)




And of course, a few more to add:

41. Forget number 4 on the previous list – with all the energy conservation we should be doing, go out instead and share the A/C instead of using it at home. (Although with the temps the way they are right now there really isn’t much of a need for A/C…)

42. Check tenki.jp or yahoo to find out the expected laundry index for the next few days, so you know the optimal time to do laundry. (Although, keep in mind drying inside or using a dryer at the laundromat may be a better idea when it’s really humid or wet.)

43. Get out, travel, and boost Japan’s economy! Sure, the weather isn’t ideal, but travel is typically pretty low during this time – you may score some great deals and perhaps run into less crowds. Besides, some places in Japan look absolutely stunning in the rain and/or on cloudy days. Just carry an umbrella.

44. Pick up some hydrogen peroxide to help clean the mold that will accumulate – especially in your bathroom/shower area (hydrogen peroxide is kinder to the environment than bleach).

45. Mix up some vinegar+water – if you notice your clothes smell worse, particularly in the underarm area, spritz some vinegar mixed with water on the area right after you take off the shirt, then wash normally. I’ve found this to be helpful in combating underarm shirt smells. And hey, vinegar water is also excellent for natural cleaning around the house!

46. Avoid puddles and cars at bus stops – from @jaydeejapan

47. If you have oily skin, go out and get your self oil-control strips. Apart from a towel, this will help a great deal. – from bhatiavaibhav (in the comments below).

48. Try citrus! From @kirsty_girl: “I find eating a grapefruit in the morning helps.  I have no idea why.”

49. Tea Tree oil fights mold and mildew – magicacorn says:

It works like magic to kill off and prevent the growth of mold and mildew on anything from cloth to wood to tile/grout. You just mix 1 tsp with one cup of water in a spray bottle and spritz away. The smell is fairly strong, but not unpleasant, and it does fade in a day or two. I sometimes even put a teaspoon or two in the washing machine if I have towels that smell musty. You can also use the oil for a ton of physical aliments too…what can I say? I love the stuff!

50. Use vinegar against gnats – Brandon (@pickmybran) says:

To get rid of them, you should mix apple cider vinegar (ringo-su) with water in a bowl and leave it near the problem area.

51. Be cool as a cucumber (and fruit!) – also recommended by Brandon:

Raw vegetables are a delicious treat in summer. Try summer squash, zucchini, various peppers, and even okra raw. They’re healthy, but also, since they are not cooked, are cool in the mouth.

52. Throw a beach party! – May as well use the humidity as an excuse to add to a tropical atmosphere. Hat tip to Brandon.

53. [Your tip here]. After reading the first 40 tips, what other advice do you have to get through rainy season?

Posted for ‘Surviving in Japan’
by Ashley
(except the pictures )


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