The adverse health effects from hot weather and heat waves represent significant public health risks in vulnerable areas worldwide. Rising temperatures due to climate change are aggravating these risks in a context of fast urbanization, population growth and societal ageing. However, environmental heat-related health effects are largely preventable through adequate preparedness and responses. Public health adaptation to climate change will often require the implementation of heat wave warning systems and targeted preventive activities at different levels. While several national governments have established such systems at the country level, municipalities do not generally play a major role in the prevention of heat disorders. This paper analyzes selected examples of locally operated heat-health prevention plans in Japan. The analysis of these plans highlights their strengths, but also the need of local institutions for assistance to make the transition towards an effective public health management of high temperatures and heat waves. It can also provide useful elements for municipal governments in vulnerable areas, both in planning their climate change and health adaptation activities or to better protect their communities against current health effects from heat.