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5 Things You Should Do During Summer in Japan, from Traditional Festivals to Enjoying Cuisine

Japan has many fun activities to offer depending on the season. Here are some ways to enjoy your trip when you visit Japan in the summer.

2017.07.06

Wear a Yukata

The type of kimono made of thin cotton is called "yukata" and is usually worn in the summer. All tourist spots (e.g. Tokyo, Asakusa, Kyoto, etc.) have rental shops where you may avail of this clothing. Wouldn't it be a great idea to walk around the city wearing a yukata? There is no need to worry as you may also avail of service options such as the geta (sandals), getting your hair and makeup done, to having the staff help you get dressed.

Recommended Shop: Kyoto Kimono Rental wargo
Example Price: Yukata + Belt Rental, Around 3,500 JPY

※This image is for illustrative purposes only.


Join a Summer Festival with a Fireworks Display

The Japanese hold festivals and fireworks displays nationwide once the summer season starts. These usually commence from July to the middle of August, but the opening dates vary depending on the region.

Summer Festivals

The summer festival draws its origins from many things such as prayers for good harvest and purification rituals for pestilence and disasters. These festivals come in many varieties. You may see a huge number of people carrying a portable shrine called a "mikoshi" which holds a divine spirit as they walk along the shrines among the festivities, as well as people dancing. One of the things to look forward to would be eating and drinking, as most summer festival venues have street stalls.

*This image of carrying a mikoshi is for illustrative purposes only.




*This image of street stalls is for illustrative purposes only.

Fireworks Display

The fireworks display holds different meanings such as enjoying the cool of the evening breeze as well as holding memorial services to one's ancestors. The Japanese hold these displays near the river and seashore as the fireworks launched reach thousands in number. There are different kinds of fireworks such as the "star mine" which is a consecutive fire of rapid shots and the "Niagara," a full-impact firework that resembles a waterfall.

※This image is for illustrative purposes only.


Enjoy Summer Cuisine and Sweets

There are many fresh foods to enjoy during the hot and humid summer of Japan. Here are 2 examples you must try!

Somen Noodles

These are dried noodles made from kneaded wheat flour and measure about 0.6 to 1.2mm in diameter. The somen noodles are boiled and then splashed with cold water and is topped with green onion and spices such as wasabi, along with some cold "tsuyu" (fish broth with soy sauce). This is a treasured dish during the summer because of its fresh flavor that you will appreciate especially when you lack an appetite. You may buy somen noodles at special stores and soba stores nationwide, as well as at eating facilities found at rest spots at tourist areas. Somen noodles are usually sold at about 700 to 800 JPY if you dine in.



Kakigori Shaved Ice

"Kakigori" is a summer dessert made from shaved ice blocks topped with syrup. People usually top it with syrups such as strawberry, lemon, and other types of fruit, but you may also find some that have actual fruit as toppings, azuki-bean paste, ice cream, and matcha green tea powder. Once summer hits, people at tearooms and restaurants nationwide, as well as street stalls at summer festivals serve this dessert. You may avail of this at about 200 JPY at the cheapest, while some may offer it for as high as about 1,000 JPY.



Visit a Summer Resort

Summers in Japan in the recent years go over 35°C and are therefore very hot. It is therefore recommended to visit a summer resort such as Karuizawa in Nagano, where it is only about 20°C on average during midsummer as well as Furano in Hokkaido when the lavenders are in full bloom. These areas are also well-known for the food and their leisure spots.

※This image is of Karuizawa.




※This image is of Furano.


Engage in a Summer Activity

Last but not the last, why not enjoy some activities in the summer? Some fun examples would be marine sports such as stand-up paddle surfing and paddling through the river on a boat. It might also be a good idea to go caving - an activity you may enjoy nationwide as you enjoy the cool breeze, where you go in search of limestone.

Examples of Places to Go:
Marine Sports: Okinawa, Kanagawa
Riding Boats: Fukuoka, Kyoto
Caving: Kagoshima, Gifu, Yamanashi

※This image is an example of stand-up paddle surfing by the seashore at Kanagawa




※This image is of riding boats at Yanagawa, Fukuoka


Engage in a Summer Activity

Please enjoy the activities this season can offer in Japan.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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Writer: nakamura

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