When I came to Japan last year it was incredibly hot. Which is great if you want to go to the beach, get a sun tan or just want to spend time outside. Swiss people go all the way to Spain or some other country to get a tan. But Japanese people on the other hand don’t do that. They almost avoid being in the sun. So I came to ask myself the question: do Japanese people hate sunlight?
Do Japanese People Hate Sunlight?
Before I’m going to explain how I got to think like that, I wanted to hear what Japanese people think. Then I compared that to what Swiss people think.
I asked my Japanese and Swiss friends the question “Do you want to get tanned?”
And that’s what I’ve got in response to that.
Do Japanese People Want To Get Tanned?
That’s a pretty clear result! The percentage Swiss people who want said they wanted to get tanned is bigger than the percentage of the Japanese people who said they wanted to get tanned and those who don’t care combined!
So the answer to “do Japanese people hate sunlight” seems pretty clear. But let me explain how I even got to think that way.
The Reason For Why Japanese People Hate Sunlight
The first time I even spoke to a Japanese person I was immediately complimented for my white skin. “How beautiful!”, “OMG! It’s so white!”, “I’m jealous” – those are all things that I hear almost on a daily basis. Whereas in Switzerland being white like I am is almost a sin.
In Japan white skin is seen as beautiful and clean. There’s even a word 美白美人（bihakubijn) which means as much as white beauty.
And I think another reason for why Japanese people don’t want to get sun-tanned is that it involves pain and can cause skin cancer.
Things Japanese People Do To Not Get Sunburnt
You might think: “That’s obvious! They put on sunscreen.” But while that’s true I find that there are many different and more common ways Japanese people protect themselves from (too much) sunlight.
Some of them are just weird…
I had to look up the word for this. And it seems to be called a parasol. But I’ve never heard so I thought I’d rather call it sunbrella.
The first time I saw this I was still inside of the station and thought it was raining. But when I left the station, there was no rain. Quite the opposite was true. I could feel the sun burning on my skin.
And it then made sense to me. They use those lighter and smaller than normal umbrellas to not get sunburnt. Out of the 100 people that I’ve asked, 25% said they’d use one. Most of them are female by the way.
I have to admit, I also bought one.
This one is obvious! You use gloves in winter to protect yourself from the cold and the snow. So why shouldn’t you also use gloves in summer to protect yourself from the heat and sunlight?
Japanese people understood this and invented this innovative thing that I call sun gloves. But most people I see wearing it are middle-aged women.
The No Sunlight Face Mask
I thought I had covered all ways to use a face maske in my post “Why Do Japanese People Wear Masks?” But I was wrong. There’s one other way in which Japanese people use masks. And it’s to protect themselves from sunlight.
The first time I saw it I thought I’d be about to witness a bank robbery. But sadly, I was wrong.
This one actually makes sense to me. Where do you put all your belongings when you go to the beach. Just leaving them in your bag on your towel is a bit risky for me. But I’d feel pretty safe putting them in a tent. And the tent also gives you privacy and also gives you some shade.
It Gets Even Weirder
The ways Japanese people protect themselves from sunlight all made more or less sense until now. But there are even more which aren’t that common and don’t make that much sense but seemed worth being mentioned.
My host mother said that one of her friends installed UV filters on all of her windows and washes her face daily in sparkling water. Apparently that would get you a beatiful white skin. She also uses whitening creme for her skin.
According to my host mother it doesn’t really work.
All I personally do is putting on sunscreen because I get sunburnt in a matter of seconds. But I don’t really care about skin colour and think that words like 美白美人 (white beauty) are just unnecessary.
And of course the answer to “Do Japanese People Hate Sunlight?” is No. I just said that because it makes for a funny blog post.