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Summer in Japan
Picture | March 29th, 2019 | Dayna Hannah
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If you’re planning to take your summer vacation in Japan, you’re in for a real treat. Although spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) 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.

ABOUT THE SUMMER SEASON IN JAPAN

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 umbrellas.

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.

WHERE TO GO IN JAPAN DURING SUMMER

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

Okinawa 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

From 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

WHAT TO DO IN JAPAN DURING SUMMER

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 or Jidai 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

Flower Viewing

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 in Hakone. 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 block.

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!


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