If you’re planning to take
your summer vacation in Japan, you’re in for a real treat. Although spring (March
and fall (September
are peak travel seasons thanks to the cherry blossoms and autumn
leaves, Japan’s summer months offer unique events and experiences.
Visiting Japan in summer, though, might not seem ideal for everyone. June is the rainy season (tsuyu in Japanese), and July and August in Tokyo see scorching temperatures that easily exceed 30°C (86°F) plus a high humidity index. Remember though, Japan’s geographical length and mountainous regions support both subtropical and subarctic climates, so you can choose—to a certain degree—what kind of weather suits you best!
Here, we’ve broken down the best places to visit in Japan during the summer, what to do, and what to expect.
If June is the only time you
can visit, don’t fret too much about stormy weather. Although it can get
substantially wet in the south, most of the country’s rainy season is
comparably mild to the rest of Asia. Many parts of Japan experience either
sudden, short bursts of heavy rain—quickly followed by the sun—or a mist-like
drizzle that can last all day. Leave the galoshes and ponchos at home, they’ll
likely just get in your way, and opt to bring water-proof sneakers and folding
Around mid-July, the rains taper off and muggy weather settles in to stay through early September. You can use that umbrella for relief from the sun as you traipse about town, and you’ll be in good company too! Many Japanese people (especially women) carry parasols to protect against UV rays. You might also want to carry a kerchief to wipe your sweat, mentholated cooling spray—available at any convenience store—and a bottle of water to stay hydrated.
NOTE: Japan’s summer months are designated as June, July, and August, but some locations experience hot weather as early as April and as late as September.
Anywhere and Everywhere in Hokkaido
Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido, is well-known for its long winters, steep snowfalls, and festivals like the Light Path in Otaru and the Yuki Matsuri in Sapporo. Lately, travelers are also getting privy to Hokkaido’s summer. The season is considerably milder than the rest of Japan, and it doesn’t rain very much. The countryside explodes in flowers, the cities revel in joyous celebrations, and hiking trails in the mountains and national parks open.
Click Here to Read About the Top Destinations in Hokkaido
Hiking in Mount Fuji
Although you won’t see a
snow-capped Mt. Fuji, as it’s often pictured, this is the only time of year to
hike Japan’s most famous peak. Paved roads allow for cars and buses to drive
about halfway up the summit, but the rest is up to you! The official climbing
season opens in July and closes in mid-September. You might run into crowds
during this limited period, so try to avoid public holidays and weekends.
Click Here for More Things to Do in Mount Fuji
Kick Back on the Beach
is the crown jewel of the Sea of Japan, but typhoons hit the island in summer. Fortunately, Japan’s coastline boasts beaches and islands all the way from Kyushu to Hokkaido. In Kansai, check out Shirahama Beach in Wakayama or take a ferry south to Naoshima Island for the best surfing and contemporary art. Near Tokyo, you can go to Kamakura for a swim and sightseeing, and Ibaraki Prefecture for fishing and the picturesque Oarai Isosaki Shrine. No matter where you go, there’s a beach in reach!
Cool Down on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
As one of the best places to visit in Japan in the summer, and one of
the most attractive natural sceneries, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a must-go place for your bucket list! The road connects Toyama City and Omachi Town in Nagano Prefecture while passing the majestic Tateyama mountain
range and towering Kurobe Dam. From April to June, a section is opened for
pedestrians to walk the “snow corridor” where drifts along to road stretch up
to 20 meters (100 feet)!
Click Here for More Details About the Alpen Route
Have Dinner on a Kyoto Kawadoko
late May to early September, you can dine in style in Kyoto. Restaurants in Pontocho Alley set up temporary patios for patrons to dine on as they overlook the
Kamo River. The practice, known as kawadoko,
is said to help cool customers during the hot and humid months. As Kyoto’s
premier area for nightlife, Pontocho Alley boasts a wide variety of eateries
from luxurious Kyoto Haute Cuisine (kyo-kaiseki)
restaurants to hole-in-the-wall grilled chicken (yakitori) joints.
Click Here for More Things to Do in Kyoto
Enjoy a Japanese Festival
From neighborhood street
festivals to city-wide celebrations, every day is a new opportunity to
experience an iconic Japanese matsuri.
Head to the Yosakoi Soran Bushi in Sapporo, the Awa Odori Matsuri in Tokushima,
or the Asakusa Samba Carnival in Tokyo for joyous, traditional
dance. For parades and portable shrine
processions, check out the Gion
Festivals in Kyoto, Aomori’s Nebuta Matsuri,
or the Kanto Matsuri in Akita.
Don’t forget about the large-scale fireworks
displays like the Sumida River Hanabi Taiken in Tokyo, too!
Click Here To Read About Our Favorite Festivals
Try a Japanese Haunted House
According to Shinto and Buddhist traditions, this is the time of year when the veil between
this world and the next grows thin. In August (exact dates determined annually
by the lunar calendar) Japan celebrates Obon to praise their ancestors and get
a good scare from “demons.” Obon festivals often include the Bon Odori—a
traditional Japanese dance—and obakeyashiki
(ghost houses). For a real scare, check out Fuji-Q Highland’s “Super Scary Labyrinth of Fear.”
WARNING: In Japan, the actors can (and will) touch you!
Click Here to Read About Theme Parks in Japan
Although cherry blossoms are
long over by June, the summer heat brings out some of the most scenic blooms.
Check out lavender fields like Lavender East in Furano,
and the lavender farms in the Biei areas in July and
August. Or, stay closer to Tokyo and ride the Tozan Railway to see hydrangeas in full bloom among the lush forests
If you want a traditional cultural experience, look out for Ikebana (flower arrangement) exhibitions where artists display
vases with seasonal blossoms.
Click Here to Read About Flowers in Japan
Indulge in a Beer Garden
If you love beer,
you’re in the right country at the right time! German-style beer gardens centering around Kirin, Asahi,
Sapporo, Suntory, and craft brews pop up on department store roofs, parks, and
hotels from late spring
to early fall.
In Tokyo, check out the Morino Beer Garden
at Meiji-Jingu Shrine where you can drink and sightsee. In Kyoto, take in the view from Kyoto Tower as you
sip your favorite ale. In Sapporo, head to Odori Park where you can choose from several different gardens on nearly every
Don’t Skip the Summer Foods
As you make your way through
Japan, don’t forget to try prominent summer treats like Unagi-don (rice topped with grilled eel), Kakigori (fluffy shaved ice with fruit syrup), and watermelon. For
a fun experience, look out for Nagashi
Sōmen (flowing noodles) setups at restaurants and festivals. They’re easy
to spot as you’ll see groups of people standing around half-piped bamboo
contraptions trying to catch noodles with chopsticks as they flow by!
Click Here for More Japanese Food You HAVE to Try!
If you’re ready to check out Japan in summer, click below to see our itineraries!