Summer Fashion in Japan for Avoiding UV Rays

Summers in Japan

Walking around sweltering downtown Tokyo or Osaka in the summertime in Japan could be one of the sweatiest and most exhausting experiences of a person’s life. The tall buildings and narrow streets help the already oppressive heat get harder. It is however, as the cliché goes, not the heat but the humidity that pushes you down.

Weather topping 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) with a tropical humidity on top may be just the kind of climate that will make a person rethink their fashion decisions.

Summer Fashion Advice for Men

If you are in Japan in the summer as a tourist, the best advice I can give you is to bring a lot of t-shirts and casual shorts. If you go out in the afternoon and spend a hot sweaty day sightseeing, a change of t-shirt and underwear may be just the trick needed to feel fresh again after lunch and continue enjoying the history and sights.

If you are working here, and especially if you are confined to a suit all day, I recommend bringing as many undershirts as you can. I recommend short sleeved undershirts to catch the sweat and protect your dress shirts better. Tank tops are less practical when the problem is the humidity.

If you are not afraid to break convention, don't hesitate to wear a necktie with a short sleeve shirt. Most people in Japan wouldn't notice, and it's quite common here.

How Women in Japan Protect Their Arms From Sunburn

If you happen to look around at women’s fashion in Japan, you may be quite surprised to see women walking around in the heat carrying black umbrellas and wearing full length gloves.

Please picture Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady” wearing a wide brimmed hat, long elegant gloves that conceal up to the elbow, and carrying a lacy parasol. This image may help you imagine what women in Japan wear to avoid the rays of the sun.

The gloves women wear when they want to avoid tanning their arms while walking around on summer days are called “Ude-kabaa” or Arm Covers here. They are split at one end allowing a thin strap to go between the thumb and the rest of the fingers. There is some loose elastic at the other end to keep it from sliding down the arm.

There is currently a popular line of arm covers designed by Japanese singer, idol, and actress Noriko Sakai, known as Nori-P. They purport to

Instead of buying the long arm covers, some women use “BabyLegs” which are leg warmers for babies. The size of the baby leg warmers is just the right size to cover many women’s forearms.

There is another type of arm covering that actually predates the thinner, cooler, more fashionable type. That is the arm coverings that are commonly worn by women who ride their bicycles for long distances to shop or work. These are often thick long coverings that double as hand warmers in the winter and extend outward from the bicycles handlebars.


If you live in a country where parasols are not commonly sold and used, then you might want to consider buying a parasol as a souvenir. Because many of them are black, it might seem that they would only increase the amount of heat absorbed and held in the vicinity of the carrier, but the objective of parasol carriers in Japan is to avoid the Ultra-violet rays of the sun. The black colored products purport to cut more of the UV rays.

Parasols are extremely common in Japan and carried by women of all ages. They tend to be smaller than rain umbrellas and made of lace.

If you happen to be in Japan and shopping for a nice parasol, it may help to know that they are most often called "Higasa" here, where "hi" (pronounced like the pronoun "he") refers to the sun and "gasa" which comes from "kasa" means umbrella. If you ask for a parasol, people may think that you are referring to a large picnic type umbrella to be used for shade. They can also be a good answer for women who want to show off their tattoos in Japan without exposing them to the sun.

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