If you’re wondering what to do in Japan in summer, you’ve come to the right place! We happen to think Japan is the best year-round destination. You’ll have a different experience based on the areas of Japan you explore. With the incredible train system, you could be on one of the beautiful beaches and then hiking a mountain an hour later.
So what is there to do? Enjoy summer festivals in the major cities, beautiful train rides through the countryside, sunny days on a beach, incredible amusement parks, and so much more. Of course, if you enjoy hiking, there’s no shortage of mountains to climb in Japan! In this post, we’ll give you ideas to help you plan your summer vacation in Japan!
How Hot Does It Get in Japan in Summer?
We know there are lists out there about the best time to visit Japan (we even have one — it needs updating!), but they aren’t entirely accurate. The truth is that Japan has distinct seasons and they all have their pros and cons. You could face heavy rain and high temperatures, and you’ll encounter fewer tourists in the winter, but there’s nothing like Japan in summer!
Admittedly, you’ll see cooler temperatures and better weather during cherry blossom season in April before the rainy season from early June through mid-July. Summer in Japan is very hot and humid, but there’s so much great stuff to do. Still, if you’re going to venture out in the heat, it’s a good idea to get prepared for what to expect during this time of year.
Average Temperature in Japan Summer Months
While Japan may be a relatively small island, what you experience in northern Hokkaido will be very different from what you feel in Okinawa. As a result, there’s no easy way to describe what to expect in Japan in summer.
What’s the hottest time of year in Japan? From late June to mid-September. For Tokyo and many major cities, the hottest month is August. It is brutal. With high temperatures and humid conditions, it can feel like you’re living in a sauna.
Those rainy days from early June to early July add to the summer heat and make things miserable sometimes. Many feel that Japan’s humid summers are unbearable and the average high has only gotten hotter in recent years.
Tips for Staying Healthy
As mentioned, you can experience extreme heat in Japan in summer, and you definitely want to avoid heat stroke. Here are some quick tips for staying safe in Japan’s heat.
- Stay hydrated. Choose drinks like water, Pocari Sweat, and Aquarius.
- Watch the forecast. If they issue a heat warning, consider staying indoors.
- Choose early mornings. Plan to do your outdoor activities as early as possible and then spend the afternoon indoors.
- Wear sunscreen and a hat. Protect your skin from the sun!
- Find shade. At many matsuri, or festivals, there’s no shade so keep that in mind.
- Head to the mountains. You’ll usually find cooler temperatures.
- Wear light-colored long sleeves to protect your skin.
Locals also tend to rely on a few items to help beat the heat. We’d recommend the following but somethings all of these items together aren’t enough to prevent heat illness.
- UV umbrellas — lots of people use them so don’t feel shy if you want one!
- Handheld fans — look for ones with USB cords for eco-friendly recharging.
- Neck fans — they look a little odd, but they’re fantastic!
- Neck cooler — literally stick this in the freezer and stay cool!
Gonna keep it real. We went to a festival for Marine Day in Chigasaki. The crowd was massive and since it was on the beach there was no shade. My daughter and I both suffered from heat exhaustion or heat stroke and had to receive medical attention. Just look at us in that photo 🙁 We love the annual events in Japan, but your health really needs to come first!
A Word on Natural Disasters
It’s not a myth. Japan is really, really prone to natural disasters. ALL kinds of natural disasters. Earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis, landslides? We got ‘em! So, if you’re new to visiting Japan, please make an effort to be prepared and vigilant.
It’s a really good idea to keep your eyes on the weather forecast. The weather conditions can change rapidly here, but the Japan Meteorological Agency really does a good job of trying to keep us ahead of problems.
Typhoon season is basically summer in Japan. It runs from May to October, but August and September are the peak season. Heads up — the later in the year they are, the stronger the typhoons seem to be.
What to Do in Japan in Summer
Ever since arriving in Japan, one of my favorite hobbies is collecting goshuin. People love collecting things in Japan (that’s probably how Pokémon became some popular!), which is probably one reason why you can find these calligraphy stamps at shrines and temples. The word “goshuin” translates to “honorable red seal” or “red temple seal.”
These beautiful stamps are considered sacred and should be obtained and collected with respect. You’ll need a goshuincho, a special book designed for these stamps, to keep them safe. You can buy them online and at bookstores, but I prefer to buy them at a favorite shrine or temple.
When you visit, there is typically a booth with a window where you can buy charms, amulets, and similar items. Look for a sign with these characters to get your goshuin: 御朱印. It’s a really lovely memento and token of your visit. Be sure to check for any unique stamps designed for specific holidays and/or events.
Look for Eki Stamps
As you make your way across Japan, look for “eki stamps” or “eki inshu.” These collectible ink stamps are free and usually located near ticket gates or station offices at train stations. It’s a cool way to remember and commemorate a visit to a particular station or prefecture.
Often, you will find paper near the stamps but they can run out. Plus, it’s a pain to try to keep track of a bunch of loose pieces of paper. Get a notebook or stamp book (“shuinchō” or “inshu-chō”) where you can imprint the station stamps. Just please don’t put them in your goshuin book!
Visit a Famous Park
We always see Japan depicted as an electronic playground filled with neon lights and high-tech robots, but this country is FILLED with amazing natural landscapes. Check out the local parks in your area and let that forest bathing melt the stress away!
Here are some of the best parks in Japan:
- Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (Tokyo): Located in the heart of Tokyo, Shinjuku Gyoen is a vast park that features a mix of Japanese, English, and French garden styles. Visitors can enjoy cherry blossoms in spring, vibrant foliage in autumn, and peaceful walking trails throughout the year.
- Ueno Park (Tokyo): Ueno Park is a historic park in Tokyo that is famous for its museums, temples, and zoo. It is a popular spot for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) during spring and offers picturesque ponds, walkways, and green spaces to relax in.
- Kenrokuen Garden (Kanazawa): Considered one of Japan’s top three gardens, Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa is a meticulously landscaped garden featuring ponds, streams, bridges, tea houses, and beautiful seasonal flowers. It offers stunning views, particularly during cherry blossom and autumn foliage seasons.
- Kōraku-en Garden (Okayama): Located in Okayama, Kōraku-en is another one of Japan’s three great gardens. This spacious garden combines traditional Japanese garden elements with spacious lawns, ponds, teahouses, and walking paths. It is especially famous for its plum blossoms and autumn foliage.
- Nikko National Park (Tochigi): Nikko National Park is a vast natural reserve encompassing mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and historical sites. It is home to the famous Toshogu Shrine, known for its ornate architecture and UNESCO World Heritage status. The park offers beautiful hiking trails and stunning natural scenery.
- Arashiyama Bamboo Grove (Kyoto): While not a traditional park, the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto is a breathtaking natural attraction. Walking through the towering bamboo stalks creates a unique and tranquil experience. The nearby Tenryu-ji Temple and the scenic Hozu River add to the charm of the area.
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (Hiroshima): Dedicated to the memory of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, this park serves as a symbol of peace. It features the Peace Memorial Museum, the Atomic Bomb Dome, numerous memorials, and beautiful green spaces for reflection and remembrance.
Enjoy Summer Food & Drinks
Whether you hit up a grocery store, family restaurant, or shopping street, you’ll find a wide variety of delicious food and refreshing drinks during the summer season in Japan. Sometimes, the stuff is too tasty to resist. Don’t say you weren’t warned!
Here are some popular summer food and beverages in Japan:
- Kakigori: Kakigori is a traditional Japanese shaved ice dessert that is extremely popular during the summer months. It consists of finely shaved ice topped with various flavored syrups such as strawberry, melon, green tea, or condensed milk. It’s often garnished with sweetened condensed milk, fruit, or mochi.
- Somen: Somen is a type of thin wheat noodle that is typically served cold during the summer. It is usually dipped in a soy-based sauce or tsuyu and enjoyed with toppings like green onions, grated ginger, or thinly sliced cucumber.
- Yakitori: Yakitori refers to skewered and grilled meat, and it’s a popular street food in Japan. During the summer, yakitori stalls can be found at festivals and outdoor events.
- Cold Soba: Soba noodles made from buckwheat are another popular summer dish. Cold soba noodles are served chilled and dipped in tsuyu sauce.
- Watermelon: Watermelon, or “suika” in Japanese, is a beloved summer fruit in Japan. Watermelon is commonly consumed at picnics, beach outings, and summer festivals.
As for drinks, here are a few popular choices:
- Ramune: Ramune is a carbonated soft drink that comes in a distinctive Codd-neck bottle sealed with a glass marble. It comes in various flavors like original, strawberry, melon, and blueberry.
- Green Tea: Green tea, or “matcha,” is a popular beverage in Japan and can be consumed both hot and cold. It’s commonly used as a base for other summer drinks like matcha lattes or smoothies.
- Mizu Shingen Mochi: Mizu Shingen Mochi is a unique summer dessert made from water, sugar, and agar-agar jelly. It has a delicate texture and is served with kinako (roasted soybean flour) and brown sugar syrup. Mizu Shingen Mochi is often enjoyed with a glass of iced tea.
Honestly, we love food in Japan year-round but summer food here is just so refreshing and so much fun to enjoy. Definitely try something new to beat the heat!
Go to an Amusement Park
Japan really loves amusement parks. They are everywhere! We’re actually planning to put together a good post about them soon. In the meantime, I can highly recommend our three favorite amusement parks in Japan.
- Tokyo Disneyland/Tokyo DisneySea: While it’s actually located in Chiba (near Tokyo), these two Disney parks are must-visit destinations. Tokyo Disneyland offers classic Disney characters, enchanting parades, and iconic attractions, while Tokyo DisneySea has a unique nautical theme with thrilling rides and immersive experiences.
- Universal Studios Japan: Head to Osaka to visit Universal Studios Japan. It features attractions based on popular movies and TV shows, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Despicable Me. If you love Minions, be sure to stay at the Universal Port Hotel!
- Fuji-Q Highland: How can you go wrong with an amusement park at the base of Mount Fuji?! The views are unbelievable and we absolutely love rides like Do-dodonpa, Takabisha, and Fujiyama.
Watch the Fireworks
In the summer months, spectacular fireworks displays are common across Japan. They are often an integral part of the country’s summer festivals and celebrations. These fireworks, known as hanabi in Japanese, are a cherished tradition that dates back centuries.
Here are some quick facts:
- Fireworks festivals, or “hanabi taikai,” are held throughout Japan during the summer months, typically in July to August.
- The origins of fireworks in Japan can be traced back to the 16th century when Portuguese traders introduced gunpowder to the country.
- Japanese fireworks are known for their vibrant colors, intricate designs, and impressive displays.
- Fireworks shows usually last from 30-60 minutes.
Fireworks festivals are held in various locations across Japan. Some of the most famous displays include the Sumida River Fireworks Festival in Tokyo, Nagaoka Festival Fireworks in Niigata Prefecture, and Omagari Fireworks Competition in Akita City. These events attract large crowds and are considered must-see attractions.
Visitors can enjoy traditional food stalls offering a variety of local delicacies, participate in traditional games, wear yukata (summer kimono), and experience the lively atmosphere of the festival.
See the Snow Monkeys
Japan is home to a famous population of snow monkeys, also known as Japanese macaques. These monkeys are native to the country and are known for their adaptation to cold climates, including snowy regions.
You’ll find them in the mountainous regions of Japan, particularly the Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano Prefecture. This park is famous for its hot springs, where the monkeys frequently gather to bathe and keep warm during the winter months.
Walk Through History in Saitama
Kawagoe, also known as “Little Edo,” is a charming city in Saitama prefecture that offers a truly magical experience in the summer months. While the weather can be hot and humid, there are still plenty of activities and attractions to enjoy.
Here are some things you can do in Kawagoe during the summer:
- Take a stroll through the streets of Koedo: Kawagoe’s old town area, known as Koedo (Little Edo), is famous for its well-preserved traditional architecture. Explore the narrow streets lined with historic warehouses and merchant houses, and soak in the atmosphere of ancient Japan.
- Visit Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine: Hikawa Shrine is a popular destination in Kawagoe and is believed to bring luck and happiness. Take a leisurely walk through the shrine grounds, admire the beautiful architecture, and participate in traditional rituals such as writing wishes on ema (wooden plaques) and drawing omikuji (fortune slips).
- Sample local treats: This is our favorite part! Kawagoe is known for its delicious local snacks and sweets. Try some traditional treats like sweet potato chips, sweet potato soft serve ice cream, or various traditional Japanese sweets (wagashi) that can be found in the old town area.
- Explore the museums: Kawagoe offers several museums where you can learn about the history and culture of the area. Visit the Kawagoe History Museum to delve into the city’s past or check out the Kurazukuri Museum to see the interior of a preserved Edo-period merchant’s house.
- Relax in Kawagoe Kurazukuri Park: Take a break from the summer heat and find tranquility in Kawagoe Kurazukuri Park. This park features a large pond, walking paths, and green spaces where you can relax, have a picnic, or simply enjoy the natural surroundings.
- Shop at Crea Mall and Candy Alley: Kawagoe is a great place for shopping, especially in the Crea Mall area. Explore the local shops, boutiques, and souvenir stores where you can find unique gifts and crafts. Don’t miss Candy Alley, a street lined with candy stores offering a wide variety of traditional Japanese sweets.
Remember to stay hydrated and wear appropriate clothing during the summer months in Kawagoe. For some reason, it feels extra hot because there’s not a lot of shade. Take your time and enjoy the rich cultural heritage, delicious food, and festive atmosphere this charming city has to offer.
Head North to Hokkaido
Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, offers a unique and beautiful experience during the summer season. The temperatures are cooler so it’s a perfect escape for anyone who’s been roasting in Tokyo or Osaka.
Here are some highlights of visiting Hokkaido in the summer:
- Flower Fields: Hokkaido is renowned for its stunning flower fields that bloom during the summer months. One of the most famous locations is Furano, known for its vast lavender fields. The lavender blooms from late June to early August, creating a vibrant and fragrant landscape.
- Outdoor Activities: Enjoy hiking, trekking, cycling, and camping! Popular spots include Daisetsuzan National Park, Shiretoko National Park, and the Shikotsu-Toya National Park.
- Onsen (Hot Springs): Hokkaido is home to numerous hot springs, which is a great way to unwind after a day of exploring.. Places like Noboribetsu Onsen, Jozankei Onsen, and Yunokawa Onsen offer relaxing and rejuvenating experiences amidst picturesque surroundings.
- Outdoor Beer Gardens: Hokkaido’s summer weather is often more moderate compared to other regions in Japan, making it an ideal place for outdoor activities, including beer gardens. Many cities in Hokkaido set up temporary beer gardens during the summer where you can enjoy local brews and delicious food in an open-air setting.
Not nearly enough people make their way to Hokkaido, but it’s really wonderful. The region’s natural beauty, pleasant climate, and unique attractions make it a wonderful destination for those seeking a refreshing and memorable summer experience in Japan.
Climb a Mountain
There are so many beautiful mountains in Japan and endless hiking opportunities. While I’m not the most fit person in the world, I do enjoy going for walks in forested areas.
Here are some of the best mountains to climb in Japan:
- Mount Fuji: As Japan’s highest and most iconic mountain, Mount Fuji is a popular choice for climbers. The official climbing season is from early July to early September, during which thousands of people attempt to reach the summit. It offers breathtaking views and a chance to witness a stunning sunrise from the top.
- Mount Takao: Located just outside of Tokyo, Mount Takao is a convenient and popular mountain for day hikes. It has various trails of different difficulty levels, making it suitable for beginners and experienced hikers alike. The summit offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and is adorned with a temple.
- Mount Haku: Located in the northern part of the Chubu region, Mount Haku is one of Japan’s three sacred mountains. It is known for its stunning alpine scenery, hot springs, and diverse flora. The mountain has several trails that cater to different skill levels, and the summit rewards climbers with breathtaking vistas.
- Mount Kita: As the second highest peak in Japan, Mount Kita is a challenging mountain located in the Northern Japan Alps. It is popular among experienced hikers and mountaineers seeking a demanding climb. The rugged terrain and breathtaking views make it a rewarding adventure for those up to the challenge.
- Mount Yari: Also located in the Northern Japan Alps, Mount Yari is known for its distinct jagged peak resembling a spear (hence its name, which translates to “spear mountain”). It is a challenging climb that requires experience and technical skills, but the stunning views from the summit make it a memorable adventure.
- Mount Tateyama: Another of Japan’s three sacred mountains, Mount Tateyama is part of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. It offers various hiking trails of different lengths and difficulty levels. Along the route, you can experience the famous Snow Wall (Yuki-no-Otani) and enjoy the alpine scenery.
- Mount Daisetsu: Located in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, Mount Daisetsu is the largest national park in the country. It offers a wide range of hiking trails that lead through lush forests, volcanic landscapes, and hot springs. The park is known for its untouched wilderness and abundant wildlife.
These are just a few examples of the best mountains to climb in Japan. Remember to check the weather conditions, prepare adequately, and follow any safety guidelines or restrictions before attempting any mountain climbs.
Soak in a Water Park
What better way to beat the summer heat than at a water park? Fortunately, Japan has many great water parks across the country. This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are some of the most popular ones:
- Tokyo Summerland: As the name suggests, this one’s located in Tokyo and it’s one of the largest water parks in Japan. It features a wide range of water attractions, including wave pools, lazy rivers, thrilling water slides, and kids’ play areas. It also has outdoor pools and spacious green areas for relaxation.
- Toshimaen Water Park: Also situated in Tokyo, Toshimaen Water Park offers a variety of water slides, pools, and attractions suitable for all ages. It has a large wave pool, tube slides, body slides, and a shallow pool for younger children. The park is part of the larger Toshimaen Amusement Park complex.
- Yokohama Cosmo World: Located in Yokohama, this amusement park has an attached water park called Cosmo World Water Paradise. It offers a range of water slides, pools, and water play areas. There are also other great rides including Dive Coaster Vanish!
- Nagashima Spa Land: Situated in Mie Prefecture, Nagashima Spa Land is a popular amusement park that also has a water park called “Mitsui Greenland Nagashima Resort.” The water park features numerous slides, a lazy river, wave pools, and hot spring baths. It offers both indoor and outdoor water attractions.
- Spa Resort Hawaiians: People LOVE this place! Located in Fukushima Prefecture, Spa Resort Hawaiians is a unique water park with a Hawaiian theme. It features large indoor and outdoor pools, water slides, wave pools, and a variety of water activities. The park also offers cultural performances, hula shows, and hot spring baths.
Summer Festivals in Japan
We absolutely adore summer festivals in Japan! This amazing country is known for its vibrant and lively summer festivals, which are celebrated throughout the country. These festivals, called “matsuri,” offer a wonderful opportunity to experience traditional Japanese culture, music, dance, food, and fireworks.
You’ll want to double-check the dates as they can change from year to year, but here are some of the best summer festivals in Japan:
Sanno Matsuri (Tokyo): This is one of the three great Japanese festivals of Edo (the old name for Tokyo) and is celebrated in honor of the Sanno Shrine, located in the Chiyoda ward. This event is known for its historical and cultural significance, as well as its grand processions and religious rituals. The festival dates back over 1,000 years and has deep connections to the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled Japan during the Edo period. The parade includes portable shrines (mikoshi), decorative floats, and performing traditional music and dance.
Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival (Kanagawa): Also known as the Star Festival, the streets adorned with colorful streamers made of paper streamers known as “kazari.” These decorations represent the meeting of the celestial lovers, Orihime (represented by the star Vega) and Hikoboshi (represented by the star Altair), who are separated by the Milky Way and allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. We live in Kanagawa Prefecture, so we have a little extra love for this one!
Gion Matsuri (Kyoto): Gion Matsuri, or Gion Festival, is one of the most famous and largest festivals in Japan, held at Kyoto’s Yasaka Shrine throughout the entire month of July. It features elaborate processions, traditional floats, street stalls, and lively festivities. The highlight is the Yamaboko Junko parade on July 17th.
Tenjin Matsuri (Osaka): Held on July 24th and 25th, Tenjin Matsuri is Osaka’s major summer festival dedicated to the deity of learning and the arts, Sugawara no Michizane. The main event is at the Osaka Tenmangu Shrine and includes boat processions on the Okawa River, fireworks displays, and vibrant street parades.
Nebuta Matsuri (Aomori): Nebuta Matsuri is held in Aomori City from August 2nd to 7th. It is known for its massive illuminated floats called “nebuta,” featuring vibrant depictions of historical and mythological figures. The festival also includes taiko drumming, dancing, and fireworks.
Awa Odori (Tokushima): Awa Odori is a lively dance festival held in Tokushima City from August 12th to 15th. It is one of Japan’s largest dance festivals, where groups of dancers in traditional costumes perform through the streets to the sounds of taiko drums and flutes.
Sumida River Fireworks Festival (Tokyo): This is one of Tokyo’s most popular summer events, held on the last Saturday of July. The festival features a spectacular fireworks display along the Sumida River, attracting millions of visitors. You can enjoy the fireworks from various viewing spots along the riverbanks.
Sapporo Yosakoi Soran Festival (Hokkaido): Held in Sapporo during the first week of June, the Yosakoi Soran Festival is a dynamic traditional dance festival featuring teams from across Japan. Participants perform energetic dances with colorful costumes and naruko clappers.
Sendai Tanabata Festival (Miyagi): The Sendai Tanabata Matsuri takes place from August 6th to 8th in Sendai City. It celebrates the Tanabata legend, where vibrant decorations made of colorful paper streamers are displayed throughout the city. The festival features parades, music, dance performances, and food stalls.
We hope this guide to Japan in summer was helpful and that you’re looking forward to this wonderful time of year. Have the best time!