Temperatures rise, humidity levels skyrocket, and sunblocks and cooling towels are bought and unpacked as summer hits Japan. In the big cities, the clear skies of spring transform to murky gray, Mt. Fuji is nowhere to be seen, and levels of seasonal depression go on the rise. Bugs like cockroaches, mosquitoes, and jumping spiders spring to life and get to work annoying as many people as they can. For many, summer is the worst season, and people look to June in misery. Even colder areas such as Hokkaido and Nagano suffer high temperatures, forcing people to huddle under the air conditioners rather than go outside.
But Japanese summer isn’t all mosquito bites, sweat, and seasonal depression. There are many awesome things about the hotter season that we can enjoy in Japan. Here are seven of them!
Japan is no stranger to festivals and it seems there is always a reason to celebrate. Summer has its own share of great festive celebrations, including the Kanto Summer Festival in Akita, the Matsumoto Bon-Bon Dance Festival in Nagano, and the Takaishi Seaside Festival in Osaka.
It’s impossible to go to all of them in one year, but with some planning, it’s feasible to attend a lot of them in various areas. That means yukatas, cultural celebrations, and street food.
Crushed ice and new flavors of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream barely scratches the surface with Japan’s ability to introduce seasonal menu items to eagerly awaiting customers. Restaurants from pancake cafes to steak houses bring out creative new dishes every year to celebrate the upcoming hotter months. Summer is a great excuse to explore local eateries and see what delicious limited items they have in store.
Seasonal street food is also served only in summer, such as grilled corn on the cob with a delicious glaze made from soy sauce and spices.
Japan is an island and isn’t short of sandy beaches perfect to visit in summer. Near Tokyo, you can visit beaches in Kamakura and Chiba for summer activities like windsurfing, swimming, sunbathing, and regular surfing. Winter gets cold as summer gets hot, so the warmer months are definitely prime time to try wicked summer activities.
Because of the humidity levels, the weather stays lovely and warm even after the sun goes down. This means, unlike in countries with low humidity, you can stay outdoors without a jacket late into the night. Barbecues are a great idea this time of year because you are guaranteed a warm night in summer.
Outdoor parties are also possible when the weather is warm. Fireworks festivals are extremely popular because people can enjoy them comfortably outside. Just don’t forget your mosquito repellent.
When summer comes round, it’s the best time to buy winter clothing! Out-of-season clothes’ prices plummet, so summer is the best time to stock up on sweaters, blankets, slippers, and fluffy socks. Some clothes go as cheap as just a couple of hundred yen.
Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea have events all year round, whether it’s for Christmas, Halloween, spring, or summer. DisneySea has an enormously fun special summer event where characters come out on floats and spray water all over the customers. The water is deliciously cool in the sweltering summer, and because it’s so hot, you dry off in no time at all. Visit DisneySea during July or August (June is rainy season) for a refreshingly cool visit.
A yukata is the summer version of a kimono, a beautiful outfit that comes in a variety of colors and patterns traditionally worn at summer festivals. This traditional Japanese clothing item can be seen on many women at events in summer.
Fireworks are also popular in Japan and you can see some great events such as the Fireworks Festival in Chino, Nagano, the Lake Toya Long-Run Fireworks Festival in Hokkaido, and Toro Nagashi in Fukui. If you love these gorgeous displays of exploding light, summer is the season for you.
With these seven reasons to love summer in Japan, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t turn off your air conditioner and get outside to enjoy the sunshine! The humid weather can take some getting used to, but if you prepare some great activities and don’t forget your bug repellent and suncream, summer can be enjoyed as much as the other seasons in Japan.