Guest writer: IIvan#0001
Unlike some countries where there isn’t a distinct difference between the seasons, in Japan these distinctions are very clear. While Summer tends to fall underneath the beauty of Spring, it still has many different activities that are perfectly suited for it. It may be hot and humid, but such weather is perfect for enjoying cold treats and relaxing under the shade of a tree. Festivals are also abundant and there is a sharp rise in both campers and hikers. Whether you’re an indoor or outdoor person, Japan’s Summer season has something for everyone.
The summer season in Japan usually reaches its peak between June and September, which means temperatures can get as high as 35 degrees celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). Though temperatures may be high, there are plenty of activities in store that will keep your mind off the heat. Just about everywhere you go you’ll find some sort of festival going on which can be a lot of fun to watch. Taking a dip in the ocean is perfectly suited for hot days but if swimming in the ocean isn’t your thing, taking a dip into a comfortable onsen at night is very relaxing. Or, if none of those interest you, there are plenty of firework shows to watch at night. Now, without further ado, let’s jump right into some of our favorite activities!
Fuji Rock Festival
This festival can be both a lot of fun and very messy. While the music is generally top tier, as famous Japanese and international artists perform, there is no accommodation aside from setting up your own tent. Sure, that sounds reasonable but with over 100,000 people in attendance and rain frequently coinciding with this event, you need a lot of dedication to attend this event. However, even with those downsides, the beautiful backdrop of mountains and trees makes for a spectacular experience. This event takes place at the Naeba Ski Resort in Yuzawa.
Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival
This fireworks festival is the oldest one in the world and is so popular that over a million people come to watch it in Tokyo. The festival is held along the banks of Tokyo’s Sumida River and a yukata is standard wear for this event. There is no assigned seating as instead there is an unwritten rule of first come first serve. If you place down a blue plastic mat with your name on it, the spot will be accepted as yours.
While the show is cancelled for the year if it rains that day, it’s a wonder to attend if you can both fit it into your schedule and the weather doesn’t act up. While there is no set date, it generally occurs at the end of July.
If you’re looking for a fun, high energy festival then this one is perfect for you. Tenjin Matsuri has been celebrated for over 1000 years and features 3000 people dressed in imperial costumes marching first through the streets of Osaka and then by boat down the Dotonbori river.
At night, bonfires are lit on the boats and the festival ends with fireworks, music, and a clapping performance that encourages all viewers to participate. This festival is held on July 24th.
Hike Mount Fuji
The best time to hike this mountain would be in early July to early September as the weather at the peak is very harsh for the rest of the year. Should you be interested in going, it’s best to do so in the early morning or at night to avoid the large crowds. While the climb itself is relatively easy as all it involves in walking and no climbing, it is a long hike with both varying weather conditions and elevation so make sure you’re in adequate physical form to attempt it. You can expect it to take between 5 and 7 hours to reach the mountains peak and then another 5 to 7 to descend it. Due to its height, you may also experience altitude sickness due to low levels of oxygen. While the views at the top are unparalleled, climb at your own risk and know your limitations.
Go To A Beach
A staple of summer vacations, going to a beach almost never gets old. While Japan might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think about going to the beach, there are some amazing hidden gems scattered across the country.
If you’re looking for beautiful bright blue water, Okinawa is the perfect place. More interested in islands? The islands of Honshu are perfect. Or if you just want to go to the most popular locations, then Odaiba Tokyo is perfect.
Drive along “The Venus Line”
This beautiful winding road will make you forget you’re in Japan, and instead somewhere in Switzerland. The road itself is only 86km long but there are numerous stops along the way that can make the trip much longer.
You’ll travel through rolling plains, beautiful waterfalls, breathtaking forests, and see many fantastic mountains. There are numerous hiking trails and scenic stops along the way, as mentioned earlier, so this would make for a perfect day trip.
Watch the Firefly Squid
This breathtaking creature is only 3 inches long but lights up in stunning blue colors. While they normally live 1200 feet under the water, they come up during the summer in Toyama bay. Sightseeing boats head out at around 3am to see these beautiful squid 1-2km offshore. If you aren’t able to make the boat, Namerikawa also has a museum dedicated to this creature.
The summer season definitely has a lot in store for any natives or visitors to Japan. Hopefully this guide was useful in either helping you plan your trip or by helping you learn something new about Japan. If you’re planning to visit in Spring, then this article will also be worth your time to read.