Summer has definitely arrived in Japan. It is hot, humid, and mostly sunny. Right now the sun rises at 4:30 AM here in Tokyo, and sets around 7 PM. June and July are supposed to be the “rainy season” in Japan. This is our second summer in Tokyo, and what we have experienced with rainy season, is just an increased “chance” of rain, and that the rain is usually light and misty in Tokyo. It is also typhoon season now — and we have had one minor typhoon already. So far, we have not seen a significant rain/typhoon during “rainy season.”
We came here from Atlanta — which is also hot and humid in the summer — but the sunshine here just seems so much more intense. And when you are outside, that thick coastal humidity seems to coat the skin like a blanket. Sweat pops out, clothing gets damp, and never seems to dry. Wearing cotton t-shirts and clothing starts to feel like wearing a wet dishrag all day.
Here in urban Tokyo, it is hard to escape the sunshine and the sweatiness, but the Japanese have found a few ways of dealing with it day to day. For businessmen who usually wear jackets and ties, after the 1st of May, most companies opt for short sleeves and no ties — known as “Cool Biz.” Women wear light, loose-fitting dresses and skirts, made of flowing moisture-wicking fabrics. And no one leaves home without their washcloth-sized “sweat towel.”
Women here are very sun-conscious, and many cover up with long sleeves and long skirts and pants. Hats are popular, and long, fingerless gloves are worn to cover bare arms when short sleeves are worn. Many women walk under sun-reflective umbrellas. The only sunscreen I have seen here is SPF 50. Tanning is not popular, and even at the beaches, women stay covered as much as possible and sit inside small portable cabanas. Oddly, though, sunglasses are not worn by most Japanese.
Since I have been living here — and shopping in Japanese stores (UNIQLO is my favorite!!) — I have found myself adapting my wardrobe to fit in here. I wear skirts most days — knee-length and longer. Hardly anyone wears shorts here. I have bought a couple of hats, and even though I hate “hat hair” I actually wear my hats now. I have a couple of light scarves to cover my neck and shoulders when I am out in the sunshine. I bought a couple of light, knit, tech-fabric “sweaters” that cover the skin, but still allow cooling airflow. I bought a sun umbrella (but haven’t actually used it much yet.) I do still wear my sunglasses… and I still wear my sandals and flip-flops (not so popular with the Japanese women.)
It isn’t exactly like a prescribed “dress code” here, and no one forces me to dress this way. But I have found that they really do know a thing or two about keeping cool in the heat. These things all really do help when you are walking around in the hot sun and drippy humidity. It is kind of an interesting thing when you can pick out the tourists because they are the only ones wearing shorts and tank tops — and sometimes, sunburns, lol.