Jul 12

Surviving in Japan: How to stay cool without air conditioning

Posted by Ashley Thompson (Shizuoka-ken, 2008-2010) of Surviving in Japan: without much Japanese and Lifelines columnist for The Japan Times.


冷風扇 or "cool air fan"

The last week or so has been rather hot (in central Japan at least), with temps here in Shizuoka hovering around 30 Celsius and up (high 80s to 90s Fahrenheit). My husband and I still don’t own an air conditioner, simply due to the costs involved with buying and installing one, and then periodic cleaning. Yet, being 33 weeks pregnant, I’ve been finding myself desperate for some kind of cooling alternative the past week or so.

I never really felt like I needed an aircon since arriving in Japan three years ago. I was happy to experience nice, hot summers. People tend to complain a lot about the summer heat in Japan (unless they live in Hokkaido), but I hate the cold so much that I’m usually relieved when summer comes around.

Until last summer anyway, when we had a record-breaking heat wave that lasted until October. Sitting and working at home was mostly tortuous, so I trekked to the nearest Starbucks a few times a week just so I could get some work done in an air-conditioned, non-smoking, wi-fi equipped environment.

And now we’re into summer 2011. Temperatures are already mirroring those of last year on some days. I’m making due the best I can, but all this extra blood running through my body and 10 extra kilograms seems to make me feel hotter than I felt even last year.

After feeling sick the other day from trying to work inside (and I do still try to get out in the afternoon and at least run errands to air-conditioned places), I was about ready to build my own air conditioner.

I found this article on how to construct a makeshift one with a fan, styrofoam box cooler, and ice, and was seriously planning to go find the materials. Regular electric fans weren’t working, even with multiple ones blowing from all directions to circulate air. Drinking ice water helped only a little, and I was hopping in the shower every so often for a quick spray of cold water.

And then my husband mentioned he’d heard about some kind of machine that blows cool air (no, not an aircon), known as 冷風扇 (れいふうせん, reifuusen), or 冷風機 (れいふうき, reifuuki), or “cool air fan/machine” as a loose translation.

Essentially, you put cold water and ice–CLICK HERE to read the rest of the post.

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