Kuuchoufuku aircon jackets: we’re big fans of this clever way to stay cool in summer

When that humid, stupid hot Japanese summer hits, we need all the help we can get. Those mini portable hand fans, cold drinks and body wipes, UV protection arm covers, parasols, and staying inside where there’s sweet, sweet precious aircon.

But spare a thought for the people who have to work in crazy hot conditions all summer. The ones busting a gut on construction sites and in factories, or in the emergency services, or who mainly work outdoors (like delivery drivers, farmers and fishermen).

There are still far too many people who get heatstroke in Japan every year. Thousands are rushed to hospital, and sadly there are also deaths. Staying out there’s a big risk to your health.

Since this year’s heatwave started, we’ve seen a bunch of workers wearing tops with built-in fans that help regulate their body temperature. And as soon as we saw them, we were like: THAT IS SUCH A COOL IDEA, LITERALLY SO COOL, OMG WE NEED ONE.

They’ll help protect you from the dangerous effects of heatstroke and heat exhaustion (keep drinking lots of cold liquid too, okay!). Maybe one of the most sensible summer trends so far.

There’s a lot of competition to keep you cool

‘Kuuchou’ (空調) is the Japanese word for ‘air conditioning’. In kanji, that is – you’re way more likely to see/hear people talking about ‘aircon’ (エアコン) instead.

Add ‘fuku’ – clothes – and you get kuuchoufuku (空調服). Air-conditioned clothing. Sounds like a luxury item, huh? Some kinda expensive high fashion thing. But we promise you it isn’t an unaffordable pipe dream.

The fun thing about Japanese is that sometimes a word gets written differently in English letters. Like ‘kuuchou’ as ‘kuchou’ or ‘kuucho’ or ‘kucho’. (Never mind those can all mean different things in kanji…)

‘Cause of that, lots of sites and companies with real similar names have popped up selling this stuff. Easier to find online and competitive on price, exactly what we wanna see.

Kuuchoufuku jackets and vests are mainly sold as workwear. They’re a popular choice for both workers and their companies, thanks to the efficiency boost. Battery packs are more economical, compared to running an aircon all day – that, and employees with a normal body temperature get more work done.

But that wouldn’t stop you wearing them in other situations. Hell, we’d put one on just for the walk from the train station to the office. (It’s that humid out there.)

Find the style that works hardest for you

You need 3 things: the top, the fan, and the power supply. Sometimes they’re sold as a full set (セット), and sometimes it’s just the clothing and fan (単品). Always double check the item page to see what’s included.

And take your pick from styles, colours, fabric, and sleeve lengths. Do you need pockets? How about a pen holder? Velcro sleeves, or elastic?

There are other special options to look for, too:

  • added UV protection
  • waterproof material
  • fire repellent material

Air-conditioned jackets and vests come with 1 or 2 fans built into the sides. They’re powered by either replaceable batteries or a lithium ion battery pack. When you’re ordering, keep in mind the batteries likely can’t be sent by international mail ’cause they’re not built into the clothes. We’d have to take them out of a set for you. If it’s just a plastic case to put your own replaceable batteries in, less of an issue.

Turn the fan(s) on, and the top inflates with the rush of air. At first, it’s like wearing a balloon or a bouncy castle, but you’ll quickly get used to it.

The system keeps you cool, with the air flow through the chest, neck and arms stopping you from sweating as much. And you know what less sweat means… you won’t stink!

When your top needs washing, it’s easy enough to take the fan out. Like this (about 3 mins and 40 seconds in):

Don’t forget to put the fan back in when your stuff’s dry! A jacket with a hole in the side isn’t gonna do nearly as much for your core body temperature.

Buying from Japan’s a breeze

Ride the fashion wave, and beat the heatwave – pick up some kuuchoufuku to get you through the summers ahead. Search the DEJAPAN website to see pages and pages of cool air-conditioned jacket and vest options.

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