While Japan offers plenty of activity options all year round, summer with its hot temperatures, is an ideal setting for some outdoor fun. Whether you want to get social or have some solitude, like chill things or need to be active, we’ve got you covered! Here a 10 amazing tips for summer experiences in Japan:
1. Climb Mount Fuji
Starting with an iconic feature of Japan, this tip is for those of you who seek a sporty activity. The climbing season runs from early July to mid-September, and the free Wifi hotspots on the way up allow for some pauses along your climb. Once you’ve reached the top, you’re not only rewarded with a stunning view but can also enjoy some vending machines. Don’t forget to bring a backpack with some snacks and water to keep you going!
2. Visit a matsuri (festival)
Festivals are a big thing in Japan, and you have plenty of options to choose from. Visiting Kyoto? There’s the month-long Gion Matsuri happening in July with processions of floats and parades. It’s a perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse into Japanese tradition since Kyoto embodies ancient Japan.
If you’re in the Tohoku region, why not visit the Aomori Nebuta Festival? It takes place for a week in August and features beautiful, illuminated floats as well as dancing and other shows. The festival ends with stunning fireworks, not to be missed.
Osaka is home to the Tenjin Matsuri, celebrated on the 24th and 25th of July at the Tenmangu Shrine. It consists of land and a river procession honouring the deity of scholarship. Participants wear traditional costumes during the festivities, and the celebratory vibe provides for a stunning summer activity.
3. Explore flower fields in Hokkaido
Nature lovers unite! If you want to escape the summer heat and marvel at beautiful gardens and flower fields, take a trip to Hokkaido. With milder temperatures in this region, you’re able to spend plenty of time strolling around the scenery made up of vast lavender fields and alpine wildflowers. Had enough of flower power? Then head to one of Hokkaido’s many national parks like Daisetsuzan National Park, Yotei-zan and Rishiri-zan for more rugged landscapes.
4. Have a water adventure
The numerous rivers across Japan offer some excellent summer fun as well. You can opt for a more fast-paced Rafting tour on the Fuji River, one of the fastest Japanese rivers. Looking for a slightly calmer activity? Try canyoning or kayaking on the Tama river. Located in Okutama, it offers tours for beginners and experienced rafters, making it suitable for everyone. Still too sporty for your taste? Then a traditional boat tour on the Arakawa River might float your boat. ;) The part located around Nagatorooffers supreme scenic views, and a guide navigating the wooden boats leave you to sit back and admire the surroundings.
5. Go to a beer garden
Yes, I’m still writing about Japan. Beer gardens are hugely popular in Japan during the summer months. Most of them have all-you-can-eat-and-drink options encompassing buffet food and a selection of beers for a reasonable price. The word garden can be misleading here, though, because many beer gardens in Japan are located on rooftops. Some famous beer gardens are Garden Island, Forest Beer Garden and Keio Asahi Sky Beer Garden, all located in Tokyo. Many of those offers amazing views perfect for warm summer nights.
6. Take part in Tanabata
Tanabata is a tradition originating in the Nara period and celebrated throughout the whole country on the 7th of July. People participate in this custom by writing wishes on colourful papers and placing them on bamboo trees. The backstory of this is two deities in love who are separated by the Milky Way and only able to meet once a year when Tanabata is celebrated.
7. Have a beach day
Because Japan is an island country, you’ll find a plethora of beaches. The most famous ones are located on islands in Okinawa, like Miyakojima and Ishigaki, which offer white sandy beaches as well as crystal clear waters. Don’t want to head south? No worries, there are beaches close to Tokyo as well. While Kamakura Yuigahama Beach and Zushi Beach are close by, they have darker sand and water compared to the beaches in Okinawa but are just fine for a day of tanning and swimming.
8. Marvel at Sumida River Fireworks
Japanese fireworks really are something else and an important summer tradition. A lot of attendants wear yukata, a summer kimono, to watch these spectacles. With many firework festivals happening, you’re spoilt for choice. The oldest and most popular one happens on the last Saturday of July in the area of Asakusa Station along the Sumida River. It’s accompanied by various food stalls for the one million visitors to enjoy. Make sure you go early to secure the best watching spots.
9. Camp in a national park
Want to immerse yourself in nature? Look no further than the 34 Japanese national parks. Spread across the country, you can choose your favourite spot, close to Mount Fuji or in the Japanese Alps, for example. There are various types of camping available as well. The options range from places where you can pitch your own tent over cabins to luxurious glamping sites. If you want to experience the camping vibe without staying overnight, head to Tokyo Skytreetown no Niwa for a day in your private glamping tent and a nice BBQ.
10. Have a barbecue
Speaking of BBQ, it’s a classic Japanese activity in summer for friends and family to spend time together and enjoy delicious food. With plenty of barbecue areas in parks and campsites with equipment to rent, you’re easily able to have a BBQ yourself. Traditional ingredients are meat and fish, as well as summer vegetables like eggplant and pumpkin. You’ll also find yakisoba (stir-fried noodles) and onigiri (seasoned rice balls) being part of a Japanese barbecue but feel free to add your favourite foods.
by Susan Miriam