Keep cool Japanese-style

17 Jun 2020 in Discover Japan

From Edo cooling techniques to eccentric modern gadgets, Japan has all you need to beat the heat!

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Summers in Japan can be hot and humid – which is why the locals have developed traditions, techniques and technology to keep themselves cool.

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If you’re looking for novel ways to beat the heat this summer, look no further than Japan. How about an ice pillow? A parasol fitted with a fan? Or ancient customs like sipping barley tea?

If you’re planning to visit Tokyo in the summer, HOSHINOYA Tokyo offers a special program inspired by Edo era cooling practices: an original way to experience Japanese history!

Cooling customs

Back in the Edo Period (1603-1868), the Japanese adapted to the summer heat. People worked early when it was less hot. They wore natural fibers to stay cool. And they adapted their diet to keep their core temperature down.

At HOSHINOYA Tokyo, you can experience these traditions first-hand with the special “Edo Cool-Off Stay” summer program. You’ll also have the benefits of modern comfort at this luxury ryokan situated by the Imperial Palace.

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Your tatami-lined room will be adorned with Edo era decorations designed to relax you and keep your temperature down. These include hanging wind chimes and ferns (tsuri shinobu), as well as seasonal flowers.

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The dominant colour is blue, and because blue is associated with water, it is said to reduce your pulse, breathing rate and blood pressure – helping your body to cool down.

Your room also comes with complimentary clothing made with 100% rare flax, a material commonly used in Edo Japan because it is breathable and conducts heat well.

In the evening, you’ll recreate the Edo era practice of sitting outside to enjoy the cooler climate while sipping cold matcha tea with shiratama anmitsu, sweet agar jelly cubes.

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In the restaurant, award-winning chef Noriyuki Hamada will prepare a refreshing summer meal.

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You can expect seasonal seafood and a smoothie with cold amazake (sweet fermented rice) for breakfast the next day.

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Both were seen in the Edo period as essential ingredients for their high nutritional value and cooling properties.

Refreshments today

While you’re in Tokyo, make sure you explore contemporary Japanese ways to keep cool – starting with the unique selection of food and drink.

When the mercury rises, you’ll notice people eating brightly-coloured frozen mounds served in a bowl. Known as kakigori, this popular summer snack is made up of shaved ice with flavoured syrup – and it’s become a big trend. Speciality stores serve up kakigori sculpted into creative shapes with regional ingredients and unexpected twists.

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Another favourite summer refreshment is mugicha, roasted barley tea served cold.

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It’s appreciated for its rehydrating properties, flushing out toxins and replenishing nutrients lost through sweating.

Cooling accessories

To sample some of Japan’s most original cooling devices, head to a konbini. In the warmer months, you’ll find the shelves of these 24/7 convenience stores lined with an astonishing array of chilled goodies. There are cool sprays for instant relief on your face. There’s cooling lotion to soothe hot skin. And there are cool headbands, lined with a gel that keeps your head cold for hours on end.

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To combat sweating, you can buy deodorized towels to mop yourself. Or salted candy to replenish lost electrolytes. The Japanese are also fans of underarm pads to absorb sweat and avoid unsightly stains. And for the night, you can purchase an ice pillow.

Lined with microcapsules, this essential sleeping accessory guarantees you’ll keep a cool head and never wake up in a hot sweat.

Stylish parasols

Sheltering your body from the sun is an art form in Japan. You’ll see people wearing arm covers in the summer, which they often keep in their bag and slip on when they head outside.  But the most common shading accessory of all is the parasol.

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Parasols have been popular in Japan since the Edo period. While they tend to be perceived as a woman’s accessory, a trend in recent years has been the higasa danshi or “parasol man”, with designs aimed to appeal to men.

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For the ultimate summer heat-beater, how about a combined shading and cooling accessory? The so-called Fanbrella is an “only-in-Japan” invention: a parasol with a built-in fan above your head. You can even generate a spray of cooling mist simply by sticking the handle into a bottle of water.

The Japanese have truly perfected the art of staying cool!

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