Japanese summer power foods

Japanese summer power foods

The Japanese know the tastiest ways to combat summer exhaustion
summer foods in Japan

It's 35 C, 84 percent humidity and sweat-drenched souls are withering at mid-day -- welcome to summer in Tokyo. It’s already the middle of August and, while temperatures have fallen slightly, summer fatigue drags on. 

The Japanese call this seasonal malaise natsubate, and have been using food to counter its effects since the 8th century. These days, air conditioning will provide temporary relief, but the best way to beat the heat this summer is still to eat your way through it. 


tokyo summer foodsUnagi

Unagi has been the king of summer stamina foods in Japan since the early Edo period. It’s high in protein and loaded with nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, which means that you only have to eat a little to get the energy-boosting effects. The most popular summer eel dish is kabayaki. The eel is gently steamed, then basted with a sweet and savory soy-based sauce and grilled over hot coals.


tokyo summer foodsGoya

According to traditional Chinese medicine philosophy, bitter melon is considered a cool energy food that nourishes the yin. This humble gourd contains a healthy dose of vitamin C and vitamin A, antioxidants that help protect against skin-damaging ultraviolet rays. In Japan, bitter melon goes by the name goya and is the key ingredient in the classic Okinawan dish goya champuru, a healthy stir-fry of tofu, pork, thinly sliced goya and scrambled eggs.


tokyo summer foodsTofu

Tofu also ranks among the top cooling foods in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s packed with B vitamins that stimulate your metabolism and help convert calories into energy. A Japanese favorite during the hot and humid summer months is hiya-yakko, chilled silken tofu topped with a scatter of aromatic herbs such as shiso, sliced scallions and myoga, a relative of the ginger family, which is believed to increase circulation. Other soy foods rich in B vitamins include soymilk and edamame.


tokyo summer foodsCold soba

Cold buckwheat soba noodles are delicious at any time of the year, but they’re particularly invigorating in the summer. Soba noodles are slow-releasing carbohydrates, so they help keep energy levels stable throughout the day. They also contain high levels of the B vitamin folate for extra stamina. The noodles come with a cool dipping sauce flavored with sliced onions and a blob of wasabi to give it some kick.


tokyo summer foodsKakigori

Summer wouldn’t be summer without kaikigori, shaved ice doused with Technicolor-hued flavored syrups, often served with sweet red beans and ice cream. Kakigori may lack the nutritional benefits of the other traditional foods, but nothing beats it on a hot day.