Business / Corporate

In Tokyo, inventors showcase new creations that offer relief from sweltering heat

Reuters

A jacket with built-in fans, a road coating that reins in heat, and factory mist sprayers were on offer at a three-day trade fair in Tokyo that wrapped up Friday as the capital struggles with record heat two years before it hosts the Summer Olympics.

Summer here has always been hot and humid, but a heat wave this year has brought unprecedented scorching temperatures in some areas, killing at least 14 in Tokyo since the start of July and sending thousands nationwide to hospital.

The high in Tokyo was 34.8 C, while in Kyoto it reached around 39.8 C on the sixth straight day of temperatures at 38 C or more — a level unseen since record-keeping began.

With the heat wave expected to continue for at least one more week, and perhaps even until the end of the month, the products on display at the trade fair held out the prospect of relief.

A jacket that cools the wearer had side panels carrying two built-in battery-operated fans, to draw in air, and help evaporate sweat.

“It’s so cool it feels like you’re wearing an air conditioner on your back,” construction worker Ryunosuke Furusawa, 45, said of the jacket developed by inventor Masanori Hara at NSP Corp.

“There’s lots of times when we work outside with no shade, so this is the best thing beyond staying hydrated to fight off heat stroke.”

A compound produced by Fujita Road Construction Co. Ltd. makes pedestrians feel a couple of degrees cooler, by reflecting heat and ultraviolet rays after it is sprayed on asphalt and concrete road surfaces to cut temperatures by 10 to 15 C.

“If possible, we’d like to see this used around the athlete’s village or the main stadium (for the Olympics),” said Takeshi Kamaeguchi, technical director of the firm’s construction department.

The heat has stoked concerns about the suitability of Tokyo as a venue for the 2020 Olympics, which are set to begin on July 24 and finish on August 9, when the men’s marathon will be held starting from 7 a.m., earlier than originally planned.