How hot is it? So hot the heat has a name. In 2007, the Japanese Meteorological Agency started calling days that got over 35 degrees C moushobi, which means “extremely hot day.” (Manatsubi and natsubi, respectively, are 30-34 and 25-29 degrees. Impress your friends!) Turn on the TV or browse a few Japanese blogs, and you’ll see the word moushobi has been getting a workout in the past weeks, with many parts of Japan experiencing day after day of extreme heat. Days when waving an uchiwa is too much work, and even engineered cool fabrics feel like too much to wear. Chemistry comes to the rescue, with creams, lotions, sheets, gels and sprays to keep skin cool and make sweat evaporate quickly, reducing stickiness.
Bub Cool effervescent bath tablets from Kao have cooling ingredients to leave the body feeling cool after a hot bath. Confused? It comes in four scents, including Mint and, new this year, Oriental Spa. Bub Shower is a lotion from the same line that you put on in the shower and then rinse off. It makes the skin feel (disconcertingly) cool and makes sweat evaporate quickly, reducing stickiness.
Convenience store bottles of Gerolsteiner, a sparkling German mineral water that is making a push to increase sales in Japan, now come with a free gift attached, a mildly mentholated sheet to refresh the eyes. Putting mild menthol over your eyes has about the effect you might expect: It will definitely wake you up, but you might be a bit squinty for a few minutes.
Gatsby’s “Ice-type” line of products is aimed at men, but women might want to swab down with them, too. Or, you know, so we hear. Moist towelettes, spray-on deodorant and a body wash that is new this summer all come in the line’s snowflake packaging. The wet wipes are called “Facial Paper,” but make no mistake, they’re moist and they are tingly. The deodorant comes in “Cold Ocean” and “Ice Citrus” aerosol and as “Body Water” in pump spray bottles.
For a similarly icy effect in a more natural form, Hakka Yu (peppermint oil) products from Kitami Hakka Tsusho are a good bet. They’ve got everything from mint salt to mint soap to mint toothpicks, but the mint oil spray is what will make you feel like you’ve been dipped in liquid nitrogen.
Neck-cooling scarves are popping up at outdoor markets and are also available online at Rakuten. They are basically bandanas stitched into tubes, with dry polymer powder inside. When soaked in cold water, the powder expands into a moist gel. One popular brand is Shirokuma no kimochi. Will it really leave you “feeling like a polar bear?” Maybe one that’s a bit damp around the neck.
Shirt Cool is a clothing spray that promises to deliver “a cool feeling every time you sweat.” Careful, though: The active ingredients are l-methanol and ethanol, so it will keep you cool . . . as long as you follow the instructions to keep the stuff away from any open flames.
Finally, there’s always the real thing. Most shops with freezers sell cups of crushed ice, an idea that seems more ingenious with every moushobi that goes by.