It's August. It is hot. It is humid. Mosquitoes everywhere. Summer in Japan can be a real pain. It always makes me wonder how in the world people back in the days survived without air conditioning.
And honestly, everyone in Japan seems to love summer and there are many sounds, scent, food, traditions that make you happy that it's summer, and forget your weariness from the heat.
Everyone's favorite summer event is hands down, Matsuri, the local festivals packed with food stalls and festival games. They are normally sponsored by shrines and temples, revelers amid a lively atmosphere of Japanese drums and flutes and the seductive smell of grilled corn basted with a soy sauce glaze. this scent always always gets me.
Dancing and stunning fireworks are part of the festivals, too.
Besides Matsuri, everyone usually has grandparents or some relatives who live in a countryside, so taking a trip to visit them is a common thing to do. It lets everyone forget the hustle and bustle of city life. And kids usually make sweet memories... like local boys have their first love with city girls and stuff. kinda like Totoro if you know what I mean. ha.
At night after taking a bath at onsen (hotspring), you look up to the stars with the soothing sound of wind chime and the scent of mosquito repellent coil, and you are fanning yourself in Yukata... ahhh this is the moment the japanese summer is awesome.
As the years pass, even the sticky weather, obnoxiously loud sound of cicada, and the scent of repelling incense smoke all become nostalgic like Miyazaki films.
b. benten has selected the following 5 essential summer items to celebrate the summer. All available at the online shop:
1. Hand fan "UCHIWA" and "SENSU"
A traditional fan is used to create a breeze to keep cool in hot weather. Uchiwa is a non-folding fan with a handle and Sensu is the folding version. Both are made of Japanese paper or cloth fixed to the handle and spines normally made of bamboo (sometimes sandalwood).
2. Wind chime "FURIN"
One of the best summer symbols in Japan. It is traditionally hung from the eaves of a house during the summer. Most are made of glass and when the wind blows, a gentle chime will ring and the sound you hear in the humid summer brings you coolness.
3. Mosquito coil (repelling incense)
A mosquito repelling incense, typically made from a dried paste of pyrethrum powder. It is usually shaped into a spiral. It used to be a must-have item in every household before the repellent sprays and electric versions were invented. Learn more about mosquito coil >> click here
4. Beer and Edamame
There is nothing better than thirst-quenching cold beer on hot summer evenings, and one of the best snacks to go with beer is edamame. Edamame has become popular appetizer all over the world through out the year, but some people don't know is the fresh edamame is only available during the summer, and it tastes so much better than the frozen ones.
How about enjoying a hot summer day Japanese style, by drinking a glass of beer and feeling the cooling breeze from your hand-held fan, while listening to the sound of your wind chime?
Hope everyone is having a fun and safe summer!