執筆 上野陽子
2012/7 Up

第22回 暑い夏に涼を取る方法
Vol.22 How to keep yourself cool in the hot summer

What ways of cooling down come to mind?


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Ways to cool off since ancient times

After the rainy season is over, the full heat of summer will be here. Summer in Japan is very hot and humid. It's getting hotter because of the changing climate, and has become almost semitropical in recent years. Using an electric air conditioner is commonplace nowadays, but Japanese people have used many different ways to cool off since ancient times. I'd like to tell you about some popular methods.


簾(すだれ)/Sudare (Screens)
Sudare are usually made of thin strips of wood, which are laid flat and tied together to make a curtain-like screen. By hanging sudare from the top of the window frame, you can block the heat of the sun and stop insects coming into the room while allowing a cool breeze to pass through the spaces between the wooden slats.


緑のカーテン/Green walls
Many people grow vines such as loofah, bitter gourd and so on up the outside walls and windows of their houses to create "green walls." Green walls reduce the overall temperature of buildings and block heat from the sun. As a result of transpiration, plant surface temperatures do not rise so this keeps the air inside the building cooler. This method is used not only to reduce heat, but also to add elegance and charm to a building.


打ち水/Sprinkling of water
Uchimizu is the custom of sprinkling water in gardens and on streets to make the passing wind cooler. People see uchimizu as a practical way of cooling the breeze while continuing an aesthetically pleasing and courteous custom. Sprinkling water with a ladle also reduces dust from dry roads and the ground underfoot.


Uchiwa originated in China while sensu are a type of Japanese fan. You can see the difference in their shapes.


Uchiwa: Usually uchiwa have a round shape, with a frame of thinly split splayed bamboo onto which paper is glued.


Sensu: Sensu are collapsible fans that originated in Japan. The shape of the opened sensu is described as "broadening toward the end," which symbolizes rising prosperity.


風鈴/Furin (Wind chimes)
Furin are usually made of glass, iron and other materials, which create a ringing sound when they touch each other. They are hung outside under the eaves of the roof so we can enjoy the cool and soothing sound the chimes make when they are blown by the wind.


扇風機/Senpuki (Electric Fan)
Usually put on the floor, electric fans circulate the air and generate a breeze. Some people use them with an air conditioner to circulate cool air more effectively.



Fans (uchiwa and sensu), screens (sudare), wind bells (furin), electric fans (senpuki) and among others.

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