How to dress comfortably in Japan’s hot and humid summer

Japan’s popularity as a tourist destination is rapidly growing, with around 20 million overseas tourists estimated in 2015. However, precautions are necessary when visiting Japan between the months of June and September. Although average temperatures are similar to those of western countries, humidity can often take a toll on one’s body. To spend such summer days comfortably, the Japanese have longtime methods to stay cool. Japan’s traditional kimono clothing and its informal summer version known as yukata are kakeginu-gata (worn by hanging fabrics from the body), which is structurally cooler to wear compared to western suits that cover the body more tightly. Takayuki Yajima of Japan’s top kimono store Yamato explains, “I wear kimonos 2 to 3 times a week. Every time I change from a suit, I am surprised at how much cooler I feel.”

In March 2015, Yamato opened a new men’s store Y.&SONS which combines the concepts of a western tailor and a Japanese kimono shop. The location is near Akihabara, the area famously known as the electronics district, next to the traditional shrine Kanda Myojin. In hopes of helping to make ‘Japanese men stylish with kimonos’, the store offers kimonos that can be worn like a jacket or suit. The measurements to tailoring process is the quickest in the industry taking only 2 weeks until completion, and the pricing is affordable (cotton from 39,000yen, wool from 49,000yen, silk from 89,000yen). Offering clothing and accessories to style with kimonos, the store proposes new ways to enjoy kimono-wearing as well. Stylist and buyer Tsuyoshi Nimura selects items such as coats by Norwegian Rain, bags by WANT Les Essentials, leather goods by Wallet COMME des GARCONS and hats by KIJIMA TAKAYUKI. In the Meiji and Taisho eras when the Japanese were transitioning from kimonos to westernized clothing, people would often mix the two styles. What Y.&SONS offers, may be a modernized version of just that.

In addition to kimonos and yukatas, Japanese folding fans called sensu, breezy wind chimes fuurin that are hung outside of houses, and shaved ice served with syrup known as kakigori are other traditional items which help us stay cool during the summer. On the other hand, many Japanese high-tech items to keep cool have been introduced over the past few years. Functional towels that provide cool and comfort by evaporation, portable electric fans and cooling spray are some of the best-selling items. The Japanese make use of both traditional and innovative items to enjoy hot summers.