Summer winds down to a close in the Japanese countryside. Summer felt short but it didn’t arrive without providing a number of intense, potentially deadly, days of heat. The Earth is heating up. And Japan appears to be no exception to this trend. To add fuel to the fire, the humidity in Japan makes it feel far worse.
When you are accustomed to US cities like Phoenix or Sacramento – Air Conditioning is found almost universally. Not the case in Japan! Many homes (especially in the countryside) may have as a single room with AC or none at all.
Beating the heat feels great, but it also becomes downright necessary for mental and physical health.
Here’s a few ways that our family found to stay cool in the summertime:
Play In The River
Just remember, the rivers can be dangerous in the rainy seasons and claim lives every year. But they can also be a huge source of enjoyment and pleasure if precautions are taken. Find a shallow and kid friendly location, use flotation devices and plenty of supervision. Have a picnic and soak up the nature.
Water parks are abundant throughout Japan, and often quite affordable. While some may be a little on the older side, they are a great way to stay cool and enjoy a nice family day. Don’t forget drinks, sunblock, big hats, sunglasses, floatation devices, some kind of shade (like a portable tent), water shoes/slippers and towels.
Nagashi Somen 流しそうめん
I guess this one qualifies as a food, but really ends up being more of an event – especially with kids. Cold somen noodles are the perfect summertime food. Nagashi Somen flow past you on a bamboo slide and you need you catch them with chopsticks if you want to eat. No bamboo? The plastic version will be available at a nearby supermarket. Fair warning, there is no way to do this with kids and have them not get soaking wet. But I guess that’s the point.
Catch Fish with Your Bare Hands
You read that right. There are several places in the countryside with small creeks set up and separated into areas where fish can be placed. Typically these places will sell you the live fish in a bucket. You release them into your pool of water, and let the kids go crazy trying to catch them. After they are captured, the same person who sold you the fish is likely to grill them up for you to eat on the spot. This makes for a fun day trip and picnic.
Cool Off Areas in Parks
In Japan you will find parks just about everywhere, and it’s summertime that an additional feature is often put into place. Many parks have areas specifically for kids (or adults I guess?) to get wet and cool off. If you plan to take your child to a park with a water-play area, there is almost 0% chance you can keep them from getting wet. Cooling off is just too irresistible.
Drinks and Deserts
There’s no shortage of beverage options in Japan. And a wide range of summertime deserts will keep you busy. Many farms that produce their own milk will offer flavors of soft-serve ice cream. I highly recommend this. Another option might be Kakigori かき氷 , a Japanese shaved ice desert. But don’t brush-off Kakigori as a Japanese snow-cone. While there are many cheap versions for kids, high quality Kakigori deserts featuring condensed milk and various toppings will cool you off in a completely unique way.