Japan is a country unlike any other. It seamlessly combines ancient traditions and breathtaking landscapes with incredible modernity and eccentric fashion. From Hokkaido in the north or Kyushu in the south, each of Japan’s islands and regions offers visitors something unique to see, do, eat, and experience.
Visiting Japan in summer has both its perks and its challenges. On the one hand, you’ll experience brilliant sunshine, lush lands and gardens, and incredible sights, sounds and smells. On the other hand, you’ll have to contend with hot and high temperatures, the occasional torrential downpour, and intense humidity.
Packing for such extreme weather conditions can be a challenge. To ensure your trip to Japan is calm, cool, and comfortable, we’ve got you covered. From head to tow, here’s what to wear in Japan in summer.
Summer in Japan, as I mentioned above, is hot and humid. Southern cities, like Tokyo and Kyoto, experience average daytime temperatures between 20-30C (68-86 Fahrenheit), but thanks to the high humidity levels it often feels closer to 40C (105 Fahrenheit!). Northern regions, like Hokkaido, average temperatures are slightly lower, but the conditions feel significantly more temperate thanks to the lack of humidity.
In addition to sweltering and sweaty conditions, summer is also Japan’s rainy season. Although you won’t encounter rain every day, there is a good chance you’ll encounter a short but strong downpour or two during your stay.
Lightweight Tops and Trousers
To cope with southern Japan’s hot and humid temperatures, your best bet for staying and looking cool is to sport lightweight sleeveless tops and long, airy trousers. Look for options in light colors and made of fabrics like linen. Not only will you look fashionable, but you’ll feel perfectly comfortable and cute as you explore the city.
Shorts are also an acceptable option for beating the heat when touring Japan. Just make sure the pair you’re rocking isn’t too short (think Bermuda shorts over short-shorts), and you shouldn’t have any problems when out sightseeing.
If you’re venturing into the northern parts of Japan, or plan on doing any hiking during your visit, you’ll want to pop a pair of heavier trousers (like jeans) into your bag, as the temperatures in areas like Hokkaido can be slightly cooler and you’ll need more protection than in the south.
Sundresses or Breezy Skirts
If the thought of wearing full-length trousers in 30-plus degree Celsius weather is just too much to bear, opt instead for a sundress or a breezy skirt. To beat the heat while still looking chic, look for dresses or skirts with a maxi or midi hemline. The longer lengths will not only help protect you from the sun but you’ll feel like, airy and breezy no matter the hot and humid conditions.
Japan is famous for their wacky and daring style, so join in the fun and rock a dress or skirt in a vibrant color or an exciting and fun pattern.
Light cardigan or shawl
A light cardigan or a shawl is a must when exploring Japan. Many religious sites and conservative areas throughout the country will require that visitors cover their shoulders upon entry. To avoid missing out on some of Japan’s most interesting and traditional sites, slip a lightweight cardigan or shawl into your bag before you head out for a day of sightseeing.
Additionally, a cardigan or shawl will come in hand should you find yourself in a building that’s just blasting the A/C. Although you’ll enjoy the cold at first, after a little while, you’ll find yourself reaching for the warmth that only a shawl can bring.
When visiting Japan’s northern regions, you’ll want to go one step further and pack a light jacket or thick jumper as temperatures will be markedly different than in the south.
Finding the right pair of shoes is important no matter where you travel. You’ll want to find something that’s comfortable to walk and stand in for hours. Additionally, when choosing a pair of shoes to wear in Japan, you’ll want to find a pair that is easy to slip on and off. Many temples, shrines, tourist attractions, and some traditional restaurants will require you to take your shoes off before entering. Opt for slip-on trainers or flat sandals to ensure you look good, feel great, and won’t have to struggle with laces as you make your way around the country’s famous cultural sights.
You’ll also want to ensure your shoes or sandals are waterproof, as there’s a good chance you’ll get stuck in the rain at some point during your visit.
Hat & Sunglasses
Not only are the temperatures high in Japan in summer but the UV rays are strong. Protect face and eyes from the sun’s harmful rays by topping your ensembles with a fresh and fabulous hat, and a pair of decent sunglasses.
Handkerchief or Tenugui
Not just for your grandparents, handkerchiefs or Tenugui are available throughout Japan and incredibly popular in the summertime. Typically made of smooth, flat woven cotton, Tenugui come in a wide variety of patterns and colors and can be used for anything a towel can be used for. From a headband to dabbing the sweat from your brow, not only are Tenugui a great way to beat the heat but make a fantastic souvenir from your time in Japan.
Umbrellas do double duty in Japan in summer. Not only are they great at protecting you in the event of a sudden downpour, but they can also be used to protect you from the sun’s hot rays as you explore the streets and markets.
Makeup and Sunscreen
There’s nothing worse than enjoying a new city only to feel that you flawlessly applied makeup in slowly melting down your face. To avoid this uncomfortable feeling, try to use waterproof versions of your favorite products, like mascara, or maybe even skip them all together.
Whether you choose to rock a bare face or adhere to a simple makeup routine, don’t skip the sunscreen. Protect your skin from the harsh heat and strong UV rays by applying a good base layer of SPF30 or more.
If you plan on visiting the north or venturing out into the wilderness, you’ll also want to ensure you’ve tucked a canister of bug spray into your bag. Bugs can be particularly pesky around dusk and dawn. Protect yourself with a couple of spritzes of repellant and enjoy Japan from sunrise to sunset.
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