Japan is hot and humid in the Summer, which is something I don’t need to tell anyone who has actually been here for it, but here’s a few things I have found which makes it that little more tolerable, especially if like me you actually like to get outside in it. One thing not explicitly on the list is sunblock which I apply liberally and frequently … and liberally again. Surviving n Japan has a round up on that, but in the meantime, here are some useful summer products.
Taichi Arm(our)ed Mesh Gloves
Just to start with a motorbike oriented one – my old summer gloves somewhat fell apart at the end of last summer, and because I like to ride my bike year round, I decided to pop down to NAPS in May during one of their sales and try on some gloves. I tried on a LOT of gloves. Aside from the four fingers and thumb per hand, I seem to have hands which don’t fit in a lot of gloves very well. The Icon gloves are nice, but the fit and size of the ones at NAPS weren’t quite there. These Taichi ones instantly fitted – like a glove. On the bike they let enough air through but don’t feel ‘drafty’ if you know what I mean, and the straps are well made from rubber and fit well. Importantly, there’s enough space around the thumb to allow easy reach to the indicator (blinker) switch – that’s something not to underestimate.
Frogg Toggs ChillyDana
I often wear some kind of head towel, because, to be honest, I sweat a lot. I also like to get out and do stuff – or indeed stay in and cook, so it works there too. Usually I’ll use a large cotton kerchief or a towel solution, but we found this this year – it’s essentially a large triangle synthetic chamois leather. Thus you wet it, put it on and that keeps you cooler than a normal dry cloth. I was a bit sceptical, but having used it for a few weeks now, it’s actually very good, and is very useful when working the BBQ.
If you like going out on these hot, humid days for any amount of time and distance, but don’t want to keep dipping into the (plentiful) vending machines, taking your own water with you, I’ve found, is a really good move, especially if you’re on two wheels. I decided to invest in one of Camelbak’s most basic products – the classic 2 litre water bag, in a simple backpack mount. It does seem to keep that water a little bit cooler, and the tube dispenser means there’s less mucking about with lids and cumbersome bottles. You can also put the bag itself into most backpacks on the market, so there’s no doubling up on baggage.
Since where we live has sea, sand, rivers, stone and pavement, I like to have a decent pair of sandals for just walking around with the family – something which can go in and out of water without it being an issue. Previously I’d had a pair of Teva sandals, but since their distribution in Japan seems to have fallen apart at the same time as those long serving sandals, I decided to try Crocs last year to see if the low price was worth it, and frankly they just annoyed me for the whole Summer.
This year then, I’m giving the Keen Newport sandals a go, and so far they’ve been fantastic for all surfaces – very comfortable, and you can even jog in them if you’re so inclined for short distances. They’re not cheap though at 9,500en for my pair, though it looks like they’ll last a significant amount of time, and feel good at the same time.