I am finally home from weeks of travel in Kyoto. Although the temperature is 20 degrees colder in San Francisco, I don’t remember feeling hot in Japan.
In the western world, we shield ourselves from the elements with heat and air conditioning on full blast. In Japan, the lifestyle adapts to be compatible with the season. Whether it manifests in summer weight clothing or drinking sweet cold teas, there are many alternatives to air-conditioning. My friends in Japan taught me a few ways to embrace the seasons, and I wanted to share their advice with you here.
One ubiquitous accessory is a fan: chic, functional, and a wonderful sunscreen. Besides shielding from the sun and cooling the skin, it releases a waft of incense, bringing the mind to shaded temple interiors.
The iconic wooden homes are a perfect symbol of adaptability. Huge picture windows and sliding doors invite in the summer’s breeze, while bamboo dividers are moved aside to create one large, open room. The lightness of bamboo, in both texture and color, adds to the coolness of the room.
Families often hang wind chimes outside, which captures the breeze and soothes the ears with a soft tinkling. Children bring home crickets as a summer pet, inviting the sounds of summer into the home.
A favored summertime dish is somen noodles, served cold with dipping sauce; there is nothing more refreshing or delicious on a sultry evening. My only complaint is that the servings are so small, I often have to have two.
It may be chilly in San Francisco now, but temperatures will rise as summer draws to a close. What are some of your tried-and-true ways of staying cool on the hottest days?