Keeping Cool: Guide to Japan's Best Pharmacy Products for the Summer
Atsui, desu ne (Hot, isn’t it)? Japan gets hot and humid during the summer months, especially in big cities like Tokyo, where the concrete sidewalks trap even more of the heat. The end of June to July is also tsuyu, or rainy season, when sudden storms can drop in without warning and may stick around for the entire day. Nevertheless, no matter the weather, Japanese pharmacies (kusuriya or yakkyoku in Japanese) have got you covered, with a bounty of items that will keep you dry and refreshed for the entire day.
Japan has a wide variety of cooling sprays, which deliver a cool mist or gel that keep you refreshed. One popular one is Ice Spark, a -9 °C gel that leaves a fizzy gel when applied, and dries up after a few seconds, while leaving a tangy citrus smell behind. Another popular product is “Hokkyoku Monogatari” (Tales of the North Pole), which is a foam-like cooling agent that sets after applied to the skin. The foam can then be shaped into a variety of forms, such as a bracelet or headpiece.
Netsusama sheets are lined with a cooling gel that you can place on your forehead, arms, or wherever you would like to be cooled down. This product comes in both adult and child forms, with the former containing greater amounts of the cooling agent, menthol.
These sheets also come in a form especially formulated for the legs and feet. They are perfect after a long day of sightseeing, as the cooling gel helps relax any sore muscles and the sticker is adhesive enough that it will stay on throughout the night.
Due to the emphasis of the Japanese skincare market on anti-aging products, sunscreen is a very popular product in Japan, and the market’s strict regulations ensure quality products. Japanese sunscreen comes in three major forms: essence, gel, and spray. Gel sunscreen is generally cheaper than the essence form, but contain more physical UV filters and thus a higher chance of a white cast. While drugstores generally have an entire shelf of sunscreen available, if not a whole wall, a popular choice is the Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence/Gel line, which is waterproof and clocks in at an impressive SPF 50 and PA level of ++++.
Whenever an unexpected shower hits, duck into a nearby pharmacy to pick up a cheap umbrella or poncho to tide you over till the end of the storm. While many of these products are meant to be disposable, they are often of good enough quality that they can last the rest of your trip in Japan.
While tenegui are best known as hand towels, these thin cotton towels can also be used as a headband during the summer to absorb sweat that can accumulate over the day. While not all drugstores have these in stock, if they do, they will most likely be located near the cash register.
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