The summer season in Japan lasts from June to mid-september and is known for its hot temperatures and high humidity levels. The beginning of summer is marked by the rain season, which typically lasts a few weeks until the end of June. While the rain season, called tsuyu, might not seem attractive to travel at first, there are some valid reasons why the rain season is actually great to travel in Japan. When the rainy season comes to an end, the temperatures will rise alongside a sharp increase in the humidity levels. July and August are the hottest months of the year in Japan with extreme humidity levels and daytime temperatures often higher than 30℃. In spite of these extreme conditions, summer is always a popular season among international tourists to travel to Japan. Travelling around Japan in summer offers a wide range of experiences and outdoor activities that make for a great holiday. You can choose to spend some time in the mountainous areas, and enjoy some hiking, canyoning or spend a relaxing time in nature. Or you can opt for some cultural experiences and visit one of the many festivals that take place in the summertime. Here is our list of the best things to do in Japan in summer!
1. Climbing Mount Fuji
Summer time is the best time to climb Mount Fuji, with the official climbing season spanning from July until mid September each year. Climbing to the summit of the sacred mountain is at the top of many bucklists with 300.000 – 400.000 people making their way to the top each year. At 3,776 meters, Fujisan is the tallest mountain in Japan and also the most famous, often depicted in art and also to be seen on the thousand yen bill. While climbing season Mount Fuji is not particularly difficult, you should always carefully prepare your trip.
2. Relaxing at the beach
Japan is an island country and being surrounded by sea means there are plenty of beaches. Japan is home to countless numbers of beautiful beaches! You can enjoy swimming in the crystal-clear water, trying marine activities, or taking a refreshing stroll while feeling the comfortable sea breeze. Some might think scenic beaches are only in Okinawa in southern Japan, but in reality, they can be found everywhere even in the heart of Tokyo! Odaiba Marine Park is a man-made beach conveniently located in the Tokyo Bay, where you can visit a beach. Just outside of Tokyo, the beaches of Kamakura and Enoshima are within easy reach. There are plenty of beaches near Tokyo for you to visit! If you don’t mind traveling further, head to Okinawa which boasts numerous scenic beaches such as Yonaha Maehama Beach and Nishibama Beach. Especially Ishigaki and Miyakojima and two beautiful islands in Okinawa that make for a great weekend getaway.l
3. Seasonal fruits: watermelon
Suika or watermelons are the typical summer fruits in Japan. Japan is a large producer of seasonal fruits and suika are the representative fruit of summer. Maybe you have seen the images of the famous square watermelon? Suikawari is a unique traditional Japanese game which is often seen in the summer season. A player tries to split a watermelon on the ground with a long stick while blindfolded. Since the player can’t see anything around them, others need to direct them so that they can reach the watermelon and smash it accurately. The rules are quite simple, but it is enjoyable and exciting for both adults and kids! Of course the expensive square watermelon shikaku suika isn’t used for this game.
Like in many other countries, the summer season equals barbeque season in Japan. BBQ is one of the most popular summer activities to spend a memorable time with family or friends. You can easily get BBQ gadgets and tools such as grills at home improvement stores, and have a BBQ at home. Another option is renting a BBQ spot, there are numerous BBQ spots around Japan where you can visit and rent all bbq gear and food onsite. Some seaside parks or nature parks in Tokyo like Showa Kinen Memorial Park offer a BBQ garden with everything you need. WILD MAGIC is a modern BBQ spot in Tokyo which is within walking distance from JR Shin-toyosu station. Or a little outside of Tokyo, Makaino Farm Resort is a popular BBQ spot near Mt. Fuji which welcomes everyone with a range of family-friendly facilities and experiences such as flower garden, campground with BBQ options, and a petting zoo with adorable animals!
5. Water activities
There are a number of beautiful rivers across Japan which offer unforgettable water adventures for everyone. Join an exciting rafting tour at Fuji river, which is widely known as one of the three fastest rivers in Japan. Visit the peaceful city of Nagatoro nestled in the northwest of Saitama prefecture, a beautiful area famous for river activities and historic spots. There are several options that will take you on wonderful river adventures, including rafting, kayaking and canyoning. The Tama River in nearby Okutama is also renowned for its rafting options suitable for both beginners and more advanced rafters. Kochi prefecture in Shikoku also boasts scenic rivers such as Shimanto river and Niyodo river where you can enjoy exciting outdoor activities in stunning nature away from big cities!
Glamping is a classy outdoor activity in summer that refers to a luxury camping-style stay with convenient facilities and comfortable accommodation. In and near Tokyo you have numerous glamping options or a little outside Tokyo, Twin Ring Motegi is a popular tourist attraction in Tochigi prefecture with a range of activities such as obstacle courses in forests and spacious playground for kids. Their glamping area features a range of plans which include special BBQ served with carefully selected ingredients by a professional chef! In Tokyo there are also some places where you can enjoy a day of glamping, for example at Tokyo Skytreetown no Niwa. Here you can enjoy some camping adventures and a BBQ while relaxing in a private glamping tent, without the overnight stay.
7. Diving/ Snorkeling
Let yourself dive into a stunning underwater world at scenic diving and snorkeling spots around Japan! Chichijima is a super remote island which is known as the largest one among Ogasawara islands, part of one of the best National Parks of Japan. A 24-hour ferry journey departs every few days from Tokyo Takeshiba pier and brings you to the scenic island. BEcause of this remote location, the ecosystem here largely untouched and incredible spots. You might be lucky and spot wild dolphins gracefully swimming in the ocean! A little less remote, Shikinejima is another island belonging to Tokyo which is accessible by either high speed ferry in 3 hours or plane in about 35 minutes. Ishigaki in the south of Japan also offers plenty of diving options.
8. Surfing/ SUP-ing
From beginners to advanced surfers, Japan offers a range of great surf spots for all levels. Head to Ichinomiya city in Chiba prefecture which describes itself as Surf Town. It is also widely known as an arena for several surf competitions such as WSL QS6000, one of the largest surf competitions in Japan started in 2016 this beach attracts lots of surfers each year. . You can also visit the Enoshima area in Kanagawa prefecture to catch constant waves. Or check out popular SUP experiences at Miyakojima which takes you to the stunning sceneries created by the crystal-clear water!
9. Summer festivals
One of the best ways to experience summer in Japan is probably to go to summer festivals. Every weekend there are numerous summer festivals held across the country, ranging from traditional ones such as Gion festival in Kyoto and the Kanda festival held at Kanda Myojin Shrine in Tokyo, to local ones which are relatively small and less crowded. Get yourself a yukata, a summer variant of the kimono, and head down to the festival grounds to enjoy some dancing, street food and the festive atmosphere. You can also go to famous fireworks festivals including Sumida River Fireworks Festival. Every year the popular firework festivals in Japan attract millions of visitors with stunning firework displays lighting up the sky for 15 up till 90 minutes!
10. Sunflowers fields
Sunflowers are an iconic summer flower in summer all over the world and Japan in no exception. Head to one of the many flower parks in Japan to spot the stunning fields of sunflowers or other seasonal flowers like lavender and roses. Narita Dream Farm is a popular tourist attraction among families in Chiba which features a giant sunflower maze from mid-July to late August.
11. Beer garden
On a hot summer night, what better way to cool off than having a drink at a beer garden. Beer gardens are super popular in the big cities like Tokyo and for visitors it is a great way to enjoy summer evenings like a local. Garden Island is a popular beer garden at Tokyo Prince Hotel which offers an incredible view of Tokyo Tower. Keio Asahi Sky Beer Garden is a rooftop beer garden on top of a department store in Shinjuku. Enjoy the night view of Tokyo skyline with refreshing drinks and tasty food and spend some memorable time together.
12. Fireflies watching
Fireflies, also known as hotaru, are small lightning bugs that can be seen only during the summer season. While it is difficult (not impossible) to find them in urban areas such as Tokyo, fireflies can be spotted in the countryside especially where plenty of nature remains untouched. They glow at night and light up the surroundings with the peaceful color. Tatsuno Town in Nagano prefecture attracts numerous visitors in mid-June with thousands of wild fireflies, they also hold an annual fireflies festival in July on a large scale for the entire town!
13. Pool resorts
Visiting pool resorts could be an alternative option for those who want to swim in water, but prefer to avoid the beach. Yomiuri Land WAI and Tokyo Summer Land are especially popular among families. At these parks kids can play in water safely while enjoying exciting water slides. Hoshino Resort Risonare Yatsugatake is a luxury indoor pool facility with a wave pool, kids area, spa, and cafeteria which can be enjoyed without worrying about the weather all year round. You can also fly to Okinawa and treat yourself to relaxing massages or luxury services at Renaissance Okinawa Resort!
If you love to spend your holiday exploring scenic spots in nature, summer is a great time to travel to Japan! The hot summer weather enables you to enjoy both ocean landscapes with marine activity options and mountainous areas without being affected by unpleasant weather changes. Despite the hot and humid weather conditions, summer is great to experience Japan with summer festivals taking place almost every weekend.
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Miho Shimizu is a Japanese freelance writer settled in Shizuoka with her husband and two rabbits. Fascinated with travelling at the age of 18, she has spent most of her long holidays exploring incredible spots around Japan. Also love to listen to music, draw, and read novels over a cup of green tea.
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