A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Do You Uchimizu?

It’s HOT! So hot that I feel like the melt down of my brain is only a matter of time. So what do you do when it’s ridiculously hot?

Since Vivian wrote about how to cool down “internally,” I’ll write about cooling down “externally.” Turning on the fan or the air condition is what most people do to get cool breeze, but what Japanese people have been doing since early times is 打ち水(uchimizu), or sprinkling water.

Learn about Uchimizu on this website: Mission Uchimizu
(available in Japanese, English, French and in Chinese)

From Mission Uchimizu website:
The old custom of sprinkling water with a ladle on streets and gardens, called “uchimizu”,is a more well-known example of the use of water in Japan’s daily living.People sprinkle water, especially in the summer time, in their house entrances and gardens or in front of their shops to lay the dust or to ease the heat.

I practice uchimizu almost every day, and it does cool down the surface temperature. It will cool down my apartment room a little bit because the reflected heat of the sun (照り返し/terikaeshi) goes down after uchimizu. The website I mentioned above, however, warns people not to use tap water to do uchimizu because that is not “eco-friendly.” They suggest using rain water and bath water.*
(*In case you didn’t know, Japanese people wash their bodies before they go in the bath & they don’t wash their bodies or hair in the bathtub, so the bath water stays clean.)

If you have small children, and if you let them play in their own little kid’s pool, don’t just dump the water. Save some water in buckets for uchimizu! Or if your house is right next to a stream, you can use the water from stream for uchimizu or for cleaning. That’s what my parents do, by the way. I think it’s also a good idea to uchimizu if you let you kids play in the empty parking lots or something, and feel that the ground surface heat is intense for small children.

As Vivian said, stay cool everyone!

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  • Vivian says:

    You can also put up some SUDARE or YOSHIZU shading, which are a sort of insulation – the bamboo-like structure is perfect for maintaining shade while at the same time letting in some sunlight through the cracks. Such shading was often used in Japanese old farmhouses. It can make a big difference in keeping your place cool. For best results, use it from the morning when the sun starts to go to work. You can buy this at any DIY shop like Yamashin or Joyful Honda!

  • RrFish says:

    Thanks for your comment! Do you use sudare at home? I’ve been growing veggies and flowers on the veranda. I do that simply because I enjoy doing it, but it takes away some (not much, definitely!) heat from the surface of veranda.

    By the way, I was really surprised to see 100yen shops selling nice-sized sudares though I don’t think the big ones are sold for 100yen.