Japanese Summer Essentials: What You Need to Survive

Japanese summer essentials

Have you been to Asia in the summer? Or for many parts of Asia, anytime? The world’s water crisis could be solved if only the Asian humidity levels could be harnessed … all joking aside, the summers here are BRUTAL. Where I live, in a sub-tropical zone, the winters are cool (ok, I’m from Alaska, so it’s hard for me to not describe them as “winters”) and the summers don’t really climb above the low 90s (low 30s in Celsius), but the humidity … holy hell, the humidity. You know how they tell you when you visit Arizona, oh but it’s a dry heat? Yeah. Not in Asia. The air practically sweats here it’s so saturated. Luckily, Japan is always prepared. For (almost) everything. And they have your Japanese summer essentials covered … follow along and see what you need to not just survive but thrive in the Asian sweatbox this summer.

Japanese Summer Essentials: when you can’t shower: shower sheets!
Japanese summer essentials
When you can’t shower … shower sheet!

You don’t have to be an athlete to appreciate these (but my athlete friends stock up on them, too): shower sheets are a very useful Japanese summer essential. Seriously, nobody has time to shower the five times a day you may wish you could in the summer here. Pick your favorite scent (some stores have little scent tester bottles) as there are several flavors and brands; these little baby wipe-looking packs contain pre-moistened disposable cloths to mop out your pits and clean up your boob sweat on the fly with. Do they work? Yes. Do you need them?  Um, yeah. They should run under 500 yen ($5 USD) a for a good supply.

Another option: Sea Breeze splashes and sprays. Also inexpensive, they come in a variety of (like everything in Japan) very light scents. The splash-ons have a cooling sensation, and the spray-on ones can be used as a hair or body deo/perfume. If you don’t need to physically wipe off grime, these are another great option.

Japanese Summer Essentials: deoderant … the BEST deodorant

I personally don’t wear antiperspirant. I’m not saying anything bad about it, just that it makes my skin crawl and I become the lady clawing at her pits at the grocery store and everywhere else. It’s not for me. Finding effective deodorants can be tricky though, particularly if you’re mindfully watching the ingredient deck. I found one that, while crazy expensive, worked for me when I lived in Alaska very well (it was Lavanila, $14 from Sephora). When I moved to the sweat pit known as Okinawa however, I STANK. Like standing still indoors, within two hours of showering and applying it, stank.

Japanese summer essentials
The BEST deodorant. Seriously.

And now that you know that embarrassing tidbit about me, you can also find out that I don’t (always) stink anymore, thanks to a tip I got about a deodorant called Soft Stone. Available at any Japanese drug store and a million other places and running around 800 yen give or take a stick, it’s not quite as inexpensive as what you can find in American drugstores, but it works. It works so well, way better than the manly-man American drugstore deodorant my husband uses (Old Spice sport or endurance or something or other). If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out on the (IMO) true treasure of the Japanese drugstore. I’ve never seen it duplicated anywhere else. It’s made from those stupid armpit crystals that some people swear work for them for odor (but didn’t work for shit for me, I honestly have no idea how this deodorant works so well being made from those dumb things). Here’s a link to the ingredients (in English) if you need.

Japanese Summer Essentials: Oil Blotting Sheets

You don’t really have need to be ghetto and use paper toilet seat covers to blot your face oil in Japan, as you can find these Japanese summer essentials virtually everywhere, even the humble Daiso. Also, I don’t know that I’ve seen those seat covers anywhere here, so you’d be SOL anyway. They are ingenious, if you haven’t tried them: they blot up the extra oil and sweat without disturbing any sunscreen or makeup you may be wearing (or adding any additional products to your face). Shiseido makes my favorite ones. They come in oil and sebum, or oil and sweat varieties. Guess which ones my sweaty arse buys in the summer here? I think this packet was about 380 yen at the drugstore I purchased it from, and to me they are worth the extra few hundred yen over the Daiso ones. Not that the Daiso ones are bad, these are just markedly better.

This summer, reach for Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF 50+. Now at NORDSTROM.
Japanese Summer Essentials: Sunblock (duh)
Japanese summer essentials
On the left: Posh Spice. On the right: Sporty Spice.

If you are lucky enough to live in Japan, you are lucky to have duty-free access to some of the most effective and certainly the most cosmetically elegant sunblocks on earth. If you live outside Japan, Amazon and eBay are your friend. These sunblocks are game changers, trust me. See here if you need ideas on super-waterproofing your sunblock.

Japanese Summer Essentials: More Sweat Mops!

The last Japanese summer essentials: if you live in Japan, act like a local: keep a rally towel or hand towel on hand always; in your car, around your neck if you’re moving about outdoors, and in your bag. Even my sun-loving husband has gone local, as the towel around the neck not only absorbs sweat before it has a chance to soak your shirt and look super sexy, it also keeps the sun off. Many women in Japan also use old school dress shields; little pads you put in the pits of your shirt to keep them from getting completely soaked. These are especially helpful if you have to wear more layers (or more formal clothing) for work.

Those are the basics. Am I missing any? What are your secrets to surviving brutal summers? Let me know in the comments!

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