How do you spell relief during summer in Tokyo? J-I-N-B-E-I.

The jinbei is the sort of short, light yukata that men wear in the summer, at home for the most part, but it’s also something you’ll see being worn at summer festivals (where I women will sometimes wear them too). I’ve always had an aversion to non-Japanese people who wear traditional Japanese clothing — it always comes off as trying too hard — but in the comfort of my own home, I’m all about the jinbei (I will venture out to a nearby vending machine if the need arises).

The secret is in the oversize fitting of the 2-piece outfit — usually made of cotton or hemp — and the very loose stitching in the underarm area. It means that although dressed, you feel like your body is being aired out — and I’ll say that I definitely feel much more comfortable wearing one over a t-shirt and sweat shorts. My ritual when I get back home after work is to quickly put it on (sometimes I’ll immediately take a shower first, sometime I’ll wait later) — this is often accompanied by a cold beer.

The jinbei has become quite popular of late, and even Muji started selling a rather large collection of them when summer was on the horizon — they’ve sold them in years past, but not in the extended variety that they do now.

If I wasn’t about to leave for the mountains for a weekend of trekking, I’d be wearing one right now.

By Jean Snow

Production Services Manager at Ubisoft Shanghai. Before that, half a life spent in Tokyo.