Or: Japan’s Second Name in Summer (but, wait, it’s still spring!).
When I experienced my first summer in Japan a few years back it was hard to miss the humidity that everyone had warned me about; though not the most comfortable experience, surprisingly, I deemed it more or less bearable.
Because of that, when the duck and I started our first joint Japan adventure last year, I was not too worried about the relatively high humidity, especially because of the luxury of having our very own AC unit in our room. However, a few weeks in we had to learn that this infamous humidity does not only affect how you feel; everything you own is also subjected to the deadly dampness. ‘Deadly?’, the lucky ones among you who get to experience rather dry summers might ask. Yes, deadly. To our own shock and sadness, the duck and I had to soon realize that especially our textiles and electrical appliances had a way tougher time than we did (such wimps!). Because of that, after having learned the hard way, the duck and I started to make use of some of Japan’s most successful anti-humidity weapons: dehumidifiers (which we weren’t even fully aware existed beyond the little silica gel packets that we always threw away and didn’t eat).

Dry duck
Now that the weather is getting warmer and increasingly humid again, this is the perfect time to share with you the duck and my approach to fighting the humidity in our bedroom (which, I feel, is still not half as informed as the average Japanese’s):

Hello warm weather, goodbye humidity!

As mentioned in the introduction, the high humidity levels in our rural Tokyo home did claim a few victims: RIP microphone that was way too expensive (for our standards) that doesn’t work the way we need it to anymore; we’re watching you, sweater that we tried to rid of a potential mildew spot (eeeew!) using all sorts of home remedies without much success (or maybe it’s just a stain? who knows?) and bag straps and suitcases that we had to treat with lots of vinegar and then move to a better ventilated area in the middle of our rooms so that tripping over them every single day reminds us of how stupid we were when we ignored for too long what humid weather can do to your things…
Aaaaanyway, now we’re a bit smarter as we’re making use of at least two tools to combat the crazy humidity that Japan has to offer, together with its beautiful spring and a bit too cockroach-y summer!

Let’s start with the first and most important dehumidifying tool we used, pretty much from the start: our AC unit. Instead of our beloved heating function (duh) and the regular cooling function, come warmer weather, the duck and I almost exclusively make use of the dehumidifier function of our AC. Not only does it keep our room refreshingly cool in summer, it also makes us feel better about hopefully not ruining or breaking any more of our things.
Since we live in a pretty green area that comes with lots of free bugs (that the duck and I are not fans of at all), we tend to dry our freshly washed clothes inside. Also, living on the ground floor, we do feel a bit weird about displaying our wardrobe for any common thief to select their favorite pieces on a whim (in the oh-so-criminal Japan). But, since, at maximum humidity, some of our laundry took several days to dry, and after crying over our broken microphone, the duck and I did eventually realize that a simple online search could be our friend in figuring out how else to keep our room dry. This led us to our anti-humidity-weapon number two:

Charcoal dehumidifiers. Because we knew that we were going to live in Japan for a limited time only we were not so stupid to invest in an electric dehumidifier (who am I trying to fool? We’re just super cheap!); instead, we got a set of those nice little charcoal dehumidifier boxes (of course we had to go for the ones with the cute elephants on top!) to put in our closets and next to our drying rack.

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The first few days we wondered whether we followed the instructions, that, of course, were exclusively in Japanese, correctly, but just a few weeks later the little charcoal balls in the top compartment of the boxes had absorbed enough water for us to feel better about ourselves and our belongings. Those little boxes are also a perfect tool for indicating the approximate return of the dreaded dampness from its dry winter holidays. In fact, the boxes we had gotten earlier this year, when it was still freezing inside, stayed pretty dry for a few months until, suddenly, after just a week or so, they had almost filled up halfway!
Let’s see if, this summer, with our slightly increased knowledge, our beloved belongings will stay intact – wish us luck!

I’m still a bit surprised at how clueless the duck and I were when we came to Japan. The fact that pretty much any dry store-bought food, like rice, seaweed or individually packaged cakes, comes equipped with a nice little dehumidifier package – that even has its own bracket in our city’s trash sorting guide (they’re burnable, in case you were wondering) – should have been indication enough of how much of an issue the humidity is here. Anyway, now we know. And (now) you know. Let’s hope that the duck and my dehumidifying friends will not disappoint us this summer!
I’m pretty sure there are many more ways to keep your things safe from the evil humidity – if you have any tips that you’d like to share with us, please don’t hesitate to do so!

With the approach of the warmer season, despite all that dehumidifying craze, don’t forget to stay hydrated!

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