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How to Plan a Japan Summer Trip

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Planning a Japan summer trip is an exciting venture for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the Land of the Rising Sun’s vibrant culture and natural beauty. To make the most of your visit to Japan in summer, it’s essential to have a well-thought-out plan in place. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of experiencing Japan during the summer months. We’ll discuss when summer officially arrives in this captivating country, delve into the nuances of Japan’s summer weather, and provide valuable tips on what to wear to stay comfortable in the heat and humidity. Furthermore, we’ll explore some important things to know about visiting Japan in summer, outline the best activities and destinations to make the most of this season, and address frequently asked questions to ensure your Japan summer trip is both enjoyable and memorable. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning traveler, this guide will help you prepare for an unforgettable summer adventure in Japan.

When is Summer in Japan?

In Japan, the summer season typically spans from May to early September, although the precise timing and weather conditions can differ by region. For instance, Okinawa experiences an earlier onset of the rainy season in May, setting it apart from the rest of the country. Meanwhile, Hokkaido enjoys a cooler and less humid summer compared to the other Japanese islands.

Summer in Japan also brings forth a multitude of festivals and celebrations, including the Cherry Blossom Festival, Children’s Day, and Greenery Day. These events add vibrancy and cultural richness to the season.

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Summer Weather in Japan & Clothing Tips

Summer Weather

Japan’s vast expanse encompasses a multitude of climates across its regions. Summer, spanning from May to September, ushers in sweltering heat and oppressive humidity, punctuated by abundant rainfall and the occasional typhoon. The mercury in August, typically the warmest month, displays a range of temperatures: 22°C (72°F) in Sapporo, Hokkaido, to 28°C (82°F) in Tokyo, Honshu, and 29°C (84°F) in Kagoshima, Kyushu.

The rainy season envelops most of Japan from June to July, with Hokkaido being the exception, experiencing a lesser deluge. Typhoon activity peaks between August and October, delivering potent gusts and drenching rains to the southern and eastern coasts of Japan.

For those contemplating a summer visit to Japan, readiness for the sweltering conditions and unrelenting humidity is essential. Regularly monitoring the weather forecast for potential typhoon alerts is advised to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Clothing Tips for Visiting Japan in Summer

When it comes to dressing for the Japanese summer, these practical tips will keep you comfortable and respectful:

  • Opt for Breathable Fabrics: Prioritize light and airy materials like cotton, linen, or rayon. These choices assist in staying cool and preventing excessive perspiration. Avoid synthetic fabrics that can trap heat and moisture.
  • Choose Light Colors: Dress in light-colored attire that reflects the sun’s rays, ensuring you remain refreshed. Steer clear of dark hues that can absorb heat, making you feel even hotter.
  • Carry Raincoat or Umbrella: Be prepared for sudden summer rain by carrying a lightweight raincoat or umbrella. For cooler days and evenings, consider pairing a sweater or cardigan over a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Respect Local Customs: When visiting temples and shrines, it’s crucial to dress modestly and respectfully. These locations hold deep cultural significance, so avoid wearing revealing clothing like shorts, skirts, tank tops, or camisoles. Opt for jeans or trousers, ensuring they aren’t overly tight or distressed.
  • Footwear Matters: Comfortable, easy-to-slip-on shoes are a must, as you might need to remove them when entering traditional Japanese homes or temples. Choose sandals, sneakers, or flats, but avoid high heels or boots that could be challenging to take off.
  • Stay Cool in the Sun: Shield yourself from the sun by wearing a hat or using an umbrella. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have a small towel on hand to wipe away perspiration.
Japan Karuizawa Joshinetsu Kogen National Park
Lush forests in Joshinetsu Kogen National Park

Things to Know about Visiting Japan in Summer

  • Japan comes alive with a vibrant array of summer festivals (matsuri), offering a splendid fusion of traditional music, dance, delectable cuisine, and awe-inspiring fireworks. Notable among these are the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto, Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori, and Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka.
  • Summer in Japan doesn’t just bring heat but also a burst of colorful flowers. Hydrangeas and sunflowers grace various locations, including Hakone, Kamakura, and Hokkaido, adding a touch of natural splendor to the season.
  • For sun and sea enthusiasts, Japan boasts an array of inviting beaches. While Okinawa stands as the prime beach destination, delightful spots are also scattered across Shikoku, Kyushu, and the outskirts of Tokyo.
  • If you seek an escape from the summer heat, consider Hokkaido or the Japanese Alps, where temperatures are milder, and the landscapes are breathtaking. Here, you can partake in hiking, camping, or even scale the majestic heights of Mount Fuji.
  • Japan provides a delicious means of beating the heat in summer: kakigori. This delectable treat involves shaved ice crowned with an assortment of toppings, including syrup, condensed milk, fruit, or red beans. Kakigori stalls abound throughout Japan, particularly in the vicinity of temples and shrines.
  • The star-studded celebration of Tanabata is another unique Japanese summer tradition. This festival commemorates the tale of two star-crossed lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, who can reunite only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month. People inscribe their wishes on vibrant paper strips and hang them from bamboo branches.
  • Summertime in Japan also brings a delectable array of seasonal cuisine. Savor dishes like somen (chilled noodles), hiyashi chuka (cold ramen), kakigoori (shaved ice), and unagi (grilled eel). These refreshingly nutritious treats are ideal for combating the sweltering heat.
Japan Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas in a Local Park in Japan

Best Things to Do in Japan in Summer

Japan is a captivating destination brimming with summer delights waiting to be explored. Here’s a curated list of top activities to relish during the Japanese summer:

  • Firework Spectacles: Witness Japan’s grand fireworks festivals during the summer, where vibrant explosions light up the night sky. Don’t miss the Sumida-gawa Fireworks Festival in Tokyo, the Biwa-ko Great Fireworks Festival in Ōtsu, and the Kanmon Straits Fireworks Festival in Kitakyushu.
  • Conquer Mount Fuji: For adventurous souls, embark on a climb up Japan’s highest and most iconic peak. Mount Fuji welcomes hikers from July to mid-September, offering various trails, camping options, and awe-inspiring vistas from its summit.
  • Water Park Escapades: Beat the heat at Japan’s entertaining and refreshing water parks, where you can splash, slide, and swim. Popular choices include Tokyo Summerland, Water Amusement Island, and Tobu Super Pool. Note that some water parks enforce a no-tattoo policy.
  • Beach Bliss: Japan boasts stunning beaches perfect for relaxation, sunbathing, surfing, or snorkeling. Among the best are Emerald Beach in Okinawa, Shirahama Ohama Beach in Shizuoka, and Zushi Beach in Kanagawa.
  • Bon-Odori Dancing: Immerse yourself in Japanese culture by participating in Bon-Odori, a traditional folk dance performed during the O-bon festival, which honors ancestors. Join the locals in dancing to simple steps and movements at renowned places like Tokushima, Gūjo-Hachiman, and Tokyo.
  • Firefly Magic: Experience the enchantment of fireflies illuminating the night in various Japanese locations. Top spots include Uji River in Kyoto, Hotaru Park in Nagoya, and Oirase Stream in Aomori.
  • Japanese Alps Exploration: Escape the summer heat by hiking the Japanese Alps, a majestic mountain range spanning Nagano, Toyama, and Gifu prefectures. Explore alpine lakes, waterfalls, lush forests, and wildlife.
  • Camping Adventures: Japan offers numerous camping sites for a day in nature, where you can pitch a tent, cook your meals, and relish the great outdoors. Popular choices include Lake Motosu in Yamanashi, Lake Biwa in Shiga, and Okutama Lake in Tokyo.
  • Barbecue Bliss: Delight in the outdoors by hosting a barbecue party with friends or family. Rent a grill and source meat, vegetables, and drinks at parks or riversides in Japan. Recommended locations are Showa Kinen Park in Tokyo, Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park in Osaka, and Ohori Park in Fukuoka.
Japan Hakone Ropeway
Take the Hakone Ropeway for breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji

FAQs about Visit Japan in Summer

Here are some FAQs about Japan in the summer season along with their answers:

Q: What’s the summer in Japan like?

A: Japan’s summer varies greatly due to its diverse climates and landscapes. In general, it’s hot and humid with temperatures ranging from 21°C to 32°C. However, cooler and less rainy regions like Hokkaido and the Japanese Alps provide relief. Summer in Japan offers an array of cultural and natural attractions, including festivals, floral displays, beaches, and mountains.

Q: Is July too hot in Japan?

A: July ranks among Japan’s hottest months, particularly in urban areas like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. The average temperature hovers around 28°C, but it can spike to 40°C on occasion. High humidity intensifies the heat. Coping strategies include staying well-hydrated, donning lightweight clothing, utilizing air conditioning or fans, and minimizing exposure to direct sunlight.

Q: Is Japan bearable in August?

A: August is another sweltering month in Japan, but it’s also the pinnacle of summer activities. This period features a wealth of festivals, fireworks, and events to relish. You can also seek refuge in cooler locales like Hokkaido or mountainous regions, where temperatures are more moderate, and the scenery is exquisite. If you can tolerate the heat and crowds, August promises a fun and exhilarating Japan visit.

Q: What are the top places to visit in Japan in summer?

A: Japan offers numerous summer destinations catering to diverse preferences:

For festival enthusiasts and a dose of culture, explore Kyoto, Osaka, or the Tohoku region, renowned for their splendid matsuri (festivals). You can also partake in the Tanabata (star festival) and Obon (ancestral festival) traditions.

If you’re drawn to flowers and nature, consider Hakone, Kamakura, or Hokkaido, where vibrant hydrangeas and sunflowers abound. Japan’s national parks and forests promise lush greenery and wildlife.

Beach lovers and water activity enthusiasts should venture to Okinawa, Shikoku, or Kyushu, home to some of Japan’s finest beaches and islands. Swim, snorkel, surf, or kayak in the crystal-clear waters.

Hikers and mountain aficionados can embark on a journey to Hokkaido or the Japanese Alps, boasting some of Japan’s most majestic peaks. Iconic Mount Fuji presents an enticing challenge.

Q: What are the must-try foods in Japan during summer?

A: Japan offers an array of delightful summer foods, including:

Somen (cold noodles): These thin wheat noodles are served cold with a dipping sauce, providing a refreshing and easy-to-enjoy treat.

Hiyashi chuka (cold ramen): Cold ramen noodles adorned with toppings like ham, egg, cucumber, tomato, and sesame dressing. A fulfilling and flavorful choice.

Kakigori (shaved ice): Shaved ice topped with syrup, condensed milk, fruit, or red beans, delivering a sweet and cooling indulgence.

Unagi (grilled eel): Grilled eel glazed with sweet soy sauce. A hearty and nutritious dish believed to boost stamina in the summer months.

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