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 in the old days survived this heat without air conditioning.
In fact, everyone in Japan seems to live for summer. There are certain sound, scent and taste that remind you of summer, and makes you feel nostalgic.
First off, 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 gets me like movie theater popcorn.
Dancing and stunning fireworks are part of the festivals, too.
Besides Matsuri, it is quite common for everyone in urban area to take a trip to their grandparents or relatives in the countryside. It lets everyone forget the hustle and bustle of city life.
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... this is when I love Japanese summer.
As the years pass, even the 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 Japanese summer. All available at our 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!