Japanese Use Fan-Fitted Jackets To Beat The Heat

‘You feel cool just by wearing the jacket because the wind is blowing through your body all the time’

Japanese Use Fan-Fitted Jackets To Beat The Heat

Like other countries, Japan is experiencing increasingly hot summers. The hottest July in a century saw about 50,000 people require emergency medical care, and at least 53 individuals passed away from heatstroke.

As demand for fan-fitted jackets increased, Workman, a manufacturer of clothing for construction workers, introduced a high-street version of the jackets in 2020.

Simple electric fans the size of a hand are inserted into the back of the jacket and are powered by a rechargeable battery.

They pull air in and then release wind onto the wearer's body at varying speeds.

Retail prices for the coats range from 12,000 to 24,000 yen ($82–164).

"As the weather gets hotter, people who have never worn fan-equipped clothing before want to find ways to cool down, so more people are interested in buying it," Workman spokesperson Yuya Suzuki told AFP.

"You feel cool just by wearing the jacket because the wind is blowing through your body all the time," he added. "Just like you feel cool when you are at home with a fan."

Tokyo greatly perspired in July, even though Japanese summers are notorious for being hot and humid.

Japan, which, after Monaco, has the second-oldest population in the world, is particularly dangerous for heatstroke.

Senior adults made up more than 80% of those who died from heat-related causes in the previous five years.

"Some people die from heatstroke," said Nozomi Takai of MI Creations, a business that mostly sells neck-cooling tubes to warehouse and manufacturing employees.

"Individuals as well as companies are putting more and more effort into measures against it every year," Takai said.

The gel inside his firm's brightly coloured tubes, priced at 2,500 yen, is cool enough to use after 20 minutes in the fridge.

Wearing it on the neck will "considerably cool the whole body" for about an hour, she said.

Takai's company joined an expo this year on "measures against extreme heat" in Tokyo to showcase new products that help users stay cool in the scorching heat.

They said the prints use materials such as xylitol that feel cool when reacting with water and sweat.

Chikuma, an Osaka-based company, has even created office jackets and dresses equipped with electric fans.

"We developed them with the idea that they could be proposed in places where casual wear is not allowed," Yosuke Yamanaka of Chikuma said.

Regular fan-fitted clothes can make the wearer look puffy, as they need to be zipped up and the cuffs are tight.

But jackets developed jointly by Chikuma, power tool maker Makita, and textile giant Teijin do not need to be buttoned up, thanks to a special structure that sandwiches the fans in two layers and keeps the cool air in, Yamanaka said.

Parasols, which are commonly associated in Japan with skin-tone-conscious women protecting against a summer tan, are now proving more popular with men too.

Komiyama Shoten, a small, luxury umbrella maker in Tokyo, began making parasols for men around 2019 after the environment ministry encouraged people to use them.

Before, many male customers thought parasols "were for women, and they were embarrassed", the owner Hiroyuki Komiya said.

On the busy streets of popular tourist destination Asakusa, Kiyoshi Miya, 42, said he decided to "use his umbrella as a parasol".

"It's like I'm always in the shade, and the wind feels cool," he said.

Another visitor, Shoma Kawashima, wore a wearable fan around his neck to stay cool in the blazing sun.

"It's so hot, I want to be naked," the 21-year-old said.

Gadgets are helpful but "not a solution" to rising temperatures, he added.