Lesson 26: Surviving the summer in Japan

Greetings from Yokohama (Tokyo’s lil’ cousin),

The view from my hotel window.

Wow has it really been over a year since I posted something here? Whoops my bad… Well quick recap of what has happened since my last post.

Turned 30, moved back to Zurich, travelled business class for the first time, learnt to make home made yoghurt and started zumba again.

As you may have sussed from the title and my initial greetings, I am once again in Japan (3rd time!) but this time in Summer.

Since next year is the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and many people will be travelling to Japan in the Summer months, I thought it might be helpful to share some things that I have experienced and learnt during my trip here.

The weather

Prior to arriving, I was freaking out about the weather. The forecast was predicting a daily temp of about 30°C (about 82°F) with 70% humidity, which are conditions I couldn’t even imagine since I’ve never really experienced it before.

It is hot and it is stuffy.

You will be praying to the god of wind for a slight breeze, or you’ll be spending most of your time in the refreshingly cool air conditioned shops. (I personally love the feeling of coming out of the cold shop and going back into the heat. It feels like you’re wrapping up in a warm blanket on a cold winter day. I enjoy it for about 2 mins…)

Your clothes will be sticking to you by the end of the day and will no longer smell that pleasant.

Sarah Anderson captures it perfectly

The lessons I’ve learnt : How to deal with the weather.

Bring light, breathable clothing which can be easily washed in the washing machine. Also bring laundry bags with you to wash your delicates. Most hotels have a laundry room containing a coin operated washing machine and dryer – you will probably want to use them at least once!

Bring appropriate footwear. You will be walking a lot. Even if you plan to use a lot of public transport, you will have to sometimes walk a long way to get to from one subway or JR Line to another.

For the 3 weeks I’ve brought four pairs of shoes: White Skechers sneakers (can be worn with anything!), flat black sturdy ballerinas (for those city days), a comfy pair of heels (oxymoron perhaps but something dressy for the evening is always nice) and a pair of sandals (for the beach. I only wore them once though and they started to hurt quite quickly).

I packed some changeable insoles to keep them fresh (which can also be purchased in Japan)

Bring and use Suncream. This isn’t just relevant for Japan but in general. I’ve been using factor 50 from DebStoko and it’s kept my skin protected and moisturised. (Health and Safety FTW)

Be a dork and wear a hat. Stylish and safe. Or you can carry a a parasol the whole day if you need that shade.

Drink drink drink! (Water that is). Water is available for sale at every vending machine for about 120yen for 550ml. At convenience stores (Lawson, Family Mart, 7/11) you can buy a 2L bottle for about 110yen. The tap water in Japan is also safe to drink. Heatstroke is a killer.

Mosquitoes

At the time of writing I currently have 25 bites on my legs. It does not make for a sexy looking leg.

Mosquitoes thrive in the hot humid climate of Japan and if you visit any temples, shrines or just generally venture out of the cities, there is a high chance that you will get bit.

The mosquitoes here are like ninjas. Silent and stealthy and it’s only the next day that you realise you’ve been bit. My 25 bites probably came from my one hour of relaxation in the park. Me and my kindle (and a load of mozzies).

The lessons I’ve learnt: Dealing with Mosquito bites.

I would assume prevention is key and in retrospect I should have bought and used a repellent. There are quite a few brands available and a quick Google search : “Best mosquito repellant Japan” will give you a list. I can’t judge how well they work though.

(The best mosquito repellant would be to invite me on your trip. The mozzies will go for me and ignore you 🙂 just ask my boyfriend…)

However I can judge a product on relieving the itchiness. I went to a supermarket (Life) and purchased Muhi-S anti itch cream. I am so glad I did.

Rub a little of the cream on your bite and within a minute the itchiness will be gone. It is so good and has prevented me from scratching my bites and leaving horrible scars/causing infections. Cost about 600 yen and was definitely worth it.

Just Google Muhi-S and show the picture to the sales clerk.

Some additional tips:

WiFi

While there is free WiFi in the main cities, I have found it to be sometimes unstable. I would definitely recommend using a pocket WiFi device. You can have it delivered to your hotel or pick it up at the airport and the just stick it in a postbox in the envelope provided before you leave. Unlimited WiFi wherever you are. I’ll post a link at the bottom of this page for the service I used.

Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof…

Being in a completely foreign country where English is seldom seen or spoken can be quite daunting, but I have found the Japanese people to be so very helpful. Google translate can definitely help.

When in Rome

If in doubt, observe the others around you. How have your fellow diners placed their chopsticks? How do the other customers pay for the bill? Did the other diners put away their plates or will they be collected by a waiter? Are people standing on the left or right of the escalator?

Don’t be that person…

Who blocks the escalator with their bag (stand on the left unless in OSAKA then on the right)

Who talks loudly on their phone on the train

Who doesn’t remove shoes at a temple

Who smokes in a non-smoking area

Who blows their nose at the table.. Or anywhere else for that matter (seriously.. This is a no-no)

Who hits people with their rucksack on the train (I am unfortunately guilty of this)

Hope this long post was helpful! For those who are travelling to Tokyo in Summer 2020 have a great and safe trip!

Thanks for reading,

Laura xxx

Links

Portable WiFi : http://www.japan-wireless.com (I am not being paid for this recommendation… I am genuinely happy about the product :))

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