1. The Choya Ginza Bar
    Photo: The Choya Ginza Bar
  2. Godaime Hanayama Udon
    Photo: Godaime Hanayama Udon
  3. Verve Coffee - Nitro coffee
    Photo: Verve Coffee

How to stay cool in Tokyo this summer

Beat the heat with some refreshing Tokyo food and drinks as well as a range of innovative Japanese products

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada
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Ah, summer in Tokyo. While the sweltering heat and humidity levels can be hard to bear, the Japanese have mastered clever ways to stay cool during the summer months. The easiest way to tackle a heatwave is by indulging in a few refreshing food and beverages like hiyashi chuka cold ramen and icy desserts like cheap and cheerful ice cream from the konbini. You can also stock up on handy accessories like Japanese cooling wipes and misting umbrellas. With all these nifty products and tasty treats on hand, the summer heat might not be quite as bad as you think. 

BE SAFE: Read our guide on going out safely, as well as how to prevent heatstroke while you're wearing a mask

Food and drinks

Himokawa udon
Photo: Godaime Hanayama Udon

Himokawa udon

Sure, you’ve tried tsukemen, soupless abura soba, and cold soba noodles. But have you ever heard of Himokawa udon? The exceptionally wide version of udon is a refreshing take on the classic chewy noodle and when served cold, it’s sure to keep you cool during the summer. Godaime Hanayama Udon in Ginza is one particular spot which specialises in this unique dish. You can order Himokawa udon in ‘zaru’ dipping style with soy sauce and sesame dips, or bukkake style with a simple sauce poured over the chilled noodles with toppings.

Frozen cocktails
Photo: The Choya Ginza Bar

Frozen cocktails

Upgrade your summer night out with a frozen beverage in hand. If you fancy something sweet, The Choya Bar Ginza specialises in umeshu (plum wine) and offers frozen cocktails all summer long. Opt for the Shuwashari Soda Ice or the Sweet Plum Milk Ice made using Choya’s signature plum wine syrups. The frozen cocktails are seasonal, so best make your way over before summer draws to an end.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés

Kakigori shaved ice is a must-have in Japan when the warm months roll around. The best part about enjoying kakigori is anticipating all the delicious seasonal flavours. Summer often sees fresh fruit toppings like melon, plum and watermelon, while tea-flavoured kakigori is also a common favourite, featuring ice doused in matcha and hojicha syrups. Check out Mayoor Miyazakidai for its milk tea kakigori variations that even come served with tapioca pearls. 

Soft cream
Photo: Shiroichi

Soft cream

A classic cone of soft serve ice cream (often called 'soft cream' in Japan) will help you keep your cool. While ice cream can be found in endless flavours, nothing beats the simplicity of a fresh milk-flavoured soft serve cone. Shiroichi in Shibuya serves just that – making ice cream from ‘raw’, unboiled Hokkaido milk to showcase the richness of the dairy. You can also add on organic black honey if you’re looking for something extra sweet.

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Nitro coffee
Photo: Verve Coffee

Nitro coffee

Among all the latest and greatest coffee trends, nitro coffee seems to be one of the most popular. Nitro coffee is simply cold brew coffee that's been infused with nitrogen gas to give it a foamier texture. When you see it in a cup, you might think that it’s carbonated, but it is not. The nitrogen simply gives an added depth, meaning the coffee doesn’t require sugar or any additives to taste great. At Verve Coffee in Shinjuku, you can order nitro coffee on tap for a refreshing pick-me-up anytime of day.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese

Hiyashi chuka is a summer staple in Japan, usually found at many Japanese-style Chinese restaurants. Menya Shichisai takes this summer dish to another level with a modern take on the classic cold noodle dish. The signature hiyashi chuka is offered every summer and includes a tangy tomato-based broth, heaps of thinly sliced cucumber, bamboo shoots and handmade noodles cut to order. This year, there are a few more cold noodle dishes on the menu, including a cold dandanmen and a chilled version of the shop’s miso ramen.

Products and accessories

Cooling wipes
Photo: Gatsby

Cooling wipes

Sure, you could carry a towel with you to dab your brow everywhere you go, but nothing beats the instant cold sensation of using one of these cooling wipes. Not only do these handy wipes leave you feeling refreshed and cool, but they also have deodorant to block that summer sweat smell. Gatsby is probably the most popular brand out there; it even has different versions for face and body that come with all sorts of pleasant scents. You can find these at most drug stores or konbini in summer.

Misting umbrella
Photo: Thanko

Misting umbrella

Rain or shine, umbrellas often pop out in Japan, and it’s no wonder – they give great sun and UV protection. This Thanko umbrella (¥5,980) takes your average brolly up a notch with a water bottle attachment and overhead sprinklers to disperse a cooling mist under the canopy. The umbrella also features an inner fan function which helps spread the mist for an even cooling effect.

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Cooling bath salts
Photo: Kneipp

Cooling bath salts

There’s nothing better than a cold shower or bath in the summer heat, and Japan has the perfect upgrade for your next soak in the tub. Just add in a sprinkle of these Kneipp super mint bath salts (¥2,400) and they’ll leave your body feeling minty and refreshed thanks to the addition of cooling menthol and peppermint oil.

Cooling clothing sprays
Photo: Tokiwa Shokai

Cooling clothing sprays

When we say Japan thinks of everything, we really mean it. Another way to stay pleasantly cool this summer season is to use cooling clothing sprays. Spritzed them directly onto your clothing for a refreshing cool feeling wherever you apply it. The sprays also double as a deodoriser and the cooling effect lasts for 30 minutes to an hour. The Tokiwa Shokai Shirt Shower spray is available at Loft for ¥1,200.

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Cooling towels
Photo: Icenon

Cooling towels

Tokyoites often keep small towels or handkerchiefs in their bags to dab away sweat when the temperature rises, but why not swap that out with an ice cold towel instead? Head into any drug store or Don Quijote and you’ll come across numerous ‘cooling towels’ which are made from lightweight, fast-drying materials that keep you cool and collected.

Icenon cold towel (¥989) is one such product; it miraculously turns cold to the touch once soaked in water. Just run it under the tap and wring it out before hanging it around your neck to feel the effects. If you feel the towel getting warm, simply shake it to get the cold feeling back again.

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