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Things to Do in Japan in June
Picture | November 7th, 2018 | Dayna Hannah
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Japan is an excellent country to visit at any time of year, but depending on your interests, some seasons might be more enticing than others. June is the start of tsuyu (the rainy season), and although the tsuyu season can be quite substantial in many parts, some places in Japan stay quite dry! Not to mention, June in Japan offers unique opportunities you simply can’t afford to miss!

Here are some suggestions for things to do in June during your next trip to Japan.

YOSAKOI SORAN FESTIVAL IN SAPPORO

If you don’t want to risk even the slightest chance of inclement weather, head up to Hokkaido where they don’t experience the rainy season at all! In June, Hokkaido finally gets some warm winds, and no one celebrates the beginning of summer like the people from Japan’s coldest region! Sapporo, Hokkaido’s largest city, welcomes summer in the first week of June with the Yosakoi Soran Festival.

During Yosakoi festivals, dancers twirl fans and rattle clappers with effortless flicks of the wrist, dramatically shift from one multi-colored costume to the next, and wave massive flags on poles that stretch skyward. The joyful Yosakoi dance-style originated in Kochi Prefecture, but Hokkaido puts a twist on it by performing to Soran Bushi folk melodies, which were first sung by Hokkaido’s fishermen. Sapporo’s festival launched in 1992 and has since become a major international attraction featuring around 30,000 dancers each year. The main events take place in Odori Park, but performances are held all over the city.

HOKKAIDO SHRINE FESTIVAL

The major festival of Hokkaido Shrine—also known as the Sapporo City Festival—runs from June 14th-16th. This traditional Shinto festival dates back over 100 years. For three days, classic Japanese-style street festivals pop up around town. The favorite of these is the Nakajima Park festival, which stretches from the residential Toyohira neighborhood to the Susukino entertainment district.

In the park, crowds gather to try traditional Japanese snacks like puffed shrimp chips, and not-so-traditional ones like deep fried Oreos. In recent years, the festival has also featured a haunted house, a burlesque show, and a “Globe of Death” for motorcycle stunts. On the last day of the festival, more than a thousand people don Heian-era clothes and carry mikoshi (portable shrines) from Hokkaido Shrine in Maruyama Park, through the major avenues, and ending in the downtown area near Sapporo Station.

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SEE ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS FESTIVALS IN TOKYO (SANNO MATSURI OR KANDA MATSURI)

The Sanno and Kanda Festivals are two of the most famous festivals in Tokyo, but they don’t happen every year. The Sanno Festival takes place in years ending in even numbers (2018), and the Kanda Festival happens in odd-numbered years (2019). During the Sanno Festival, a parade winds through central Tokyo over the course of nine hours. The shrine bearers carry the mikoshi for Tokyo’s guardian deity to and from the Hie Shrine for all to see during the parade.

The Kanda Festival also features a long procession of mikoshi but takes place on May 15th. Both the Sanno and Kanda processions were the only ones allowed to pass through the grounds of Edo Castle during the Tokugawa shogunate, so they were quite large in their founding years. The festivals have been scaled down a bit compared to their historical origins, but even now around 500 people still participate in the parades each year!

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SNOW CORRIDOR

When the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route was built in 1971, the purpose was merely to connect Toyama City with Omachi Town in Nagano Prefecture, but the engineers also inadvertently built one of the most attractive places to see Japan’s countryside! From mid-April to November, the route opens to private vehicles—including ours—and leads the way to the stunning sights beyond.

Along the road, you can admire the towering Tateyama mountain range. From Tateyama Ropeway, you’ll get the chance to gaze upon the 186-meter (610 feet) tall Kurobe Dam. But the main attraction is the snow that forms along the road between Midagahara and Murodo. From mid-April to June a section is opened for pedestrians to walk through the “snow corridor.” The snow drifts on either side can stretch to heights of about 20-meters (almost 100 feet) even in June!

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ENJOY THE HYDRANGEA FESTIVALS

Japan’s famous hydrangea bushes peak in mid-June. The best place to see hydrangea is in Hakone in the southwestern part of Kanagawa. Hakone is mostly famous for its many renowned hot spring resorts, and if you get caught in the rain, what better way to warm up than in an onsen bath? Hakone is situated in Fuji Hakone Izu National Park, and you can catch great views of Mt. Fuji from almost anywhere in the city.

The beauty of Hakone is magnified when hydrangea blossoms spring up in their pompom formations in different hues. The Hakone Tozan Line provides scenic views all year round, but in mid-June, the journey becomes a stunning picture of lush forests, clear mountain rivers, and thousands of bright hydrangeas.

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Whether you prefer to spend June avoiding the chance of rain in the north, or reveling in the festivities of other parts no matter the weather, Japan has something for everyone in June! If you plan to continue your vacation itinerary from June to July….

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