The best way to experience Japan’s stunning summertime is through participating in one of its top summer festivals. I know, here you will be interested in other outdoor summer activities than just watching marvelous fireworks displays that light up the evening sky.

If you are serious of taking a trip to Japan this summer and already have determined to make it memorable, follow this simple travel plan as it will take you on a great journey through country’s most exciting summer activities and events.

Fireworks (hanabi) in Japan. Photo Credit: Marufish at Flickr.

Check out the 2019 Japan summer festivals calendar before you start planning your trip. It is highly recommended page showcasing a list of popular summer festivals and events held across the country. This itinerary is for the ones who seem to begin their trip from late-July through early-August.

That is definitely the best time to visit Japan and catch some of the greatest summer matsuri, especially in the Tohoku region. I hope you find this itinerary useful and you get some very good ideas to make your travel plan even better.

You are suggested to buy a Japan Rail Pass before you arrive in Japan. And yes you need this to save money on transportation.

Day 1, 2, and 3 in Tokyo

Sumidagawa fireworks! Photo Credit: Fabian Reus at Flickr.

You can begin your trip from Tokyo as it is an exciting city with a lot of things to see and do. Lately, I have shared a suggested 3-day Tokyo itinerary for visitors who are willing to discover Tokyo’s incredible summer charms including one firework festivals in the city.

The Sumidagawa fireworks festival is going to be celebrated on July 29, 2019. I strongly recommend you plan your Tokyo trip from July 29 to July 31.

Akihabara District at Night. Photo Credit: IQRemix at Flickr.

In fact, the itinerary sounds really inspiring for those who don’t want to miss experiencing Tokyo’s best sightseeing attractions including the famous museums and public parks. It takes you to different areas across the city and shows you how to enjoy the time while visiting the top recommended spots that most of the travel experts would tell you to discover.

I believe 3 days is enough to explore Tokyo, don’t you think so? Right after your Tokyo expedition, I take you to somewhere in the Tohoku region for some very good reasons. You will reveal it very soon, so just keep reading.

Hotel to stay in Tokyo: Shinjuku Prince Hotel.

Day 4 in Kamakura – A Suggested Side Trip from Tokyo

The Great Buddha statue in Kamakura. Photo Credit: TAKA@P.P.R.S at Flickr.

In order to experience the traditional Japanese culture, you have got to visit Kamakura. It is an ancient city with beautiful old Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.

You can easily spend a wonderful summer day here from Tokyo (usually takes one hour to reach) by walking through Kamakura’s most colorful neighborhood and visiting the attractions such as the Great Buddha (Daibutsu), Hasedera Temple, Hokokuji Temple, Hachimangu Shrine and many more including the beaches.

After exploring its top sightseeing spots you can get back to Tokyo by train in the evening. If you need a self-guided tour, feel free to contact us and we would like to happily recommend you some experience tour guides to make your trip a great escapade with lots of surprising moments along the way.

Stay overnight at the same hotel.

Day 5 in Niigata

JR East Shinkansen.

A shinkansen (Japan bullet train) ride is one of the best things to do in Japan that every visitor must experience. Just hop on the Toki (train service operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) on the Joetsu Shinkansen) and discover how quickly it takes you to Niigata from Tokyo.

The entire journey may take more than 2 hours. So, if you get on the train early in the morning, you would have a lot of time to explore the city’s some great places before the main event arrives in the evening.

When you are in Niigata, make sure that you don’t leave it without trying some of its popular local delicacies such as Wappameshi, Senbei (rice crackers), and sake. You may find many good restaurants that offer delicious wappameshi and other local delicacies but I would like you to head to Inakaya – a restaurant located downtown Niigata city.

Beautiful paddy fields in Niigata. Photo Credit: snotch at Flickr.

For the taste of yummy Senbai and its crazy cute looking shape, head towards Niigata Senbai Okoku. Here you can see how the bakers there bake and roast awesome Senbai. In addition, you can try yourself roasting some as well, and that would be a real fun hands-on activity for you.

Niigata is often called as the kingdom of Japanese sake. Does not it sound cool?! Just head to Imayo Tsukasa Sake Brewery and experience how sake is made there. You can learn the basics of sake making, and know its inspiring history as well.

Nagaoka Fireworks Festival in Niigata. Photo Credit: George Alexander Ishida at Flickr.

Niigata prefecture is full of color and boats an abundance of breathtaking landscapes, especially I like the views of the green paddy fields. You go to the main town to see the one of the most popular summer firework festivals in Japan, known as Nagaoka Fireworks Festival. It is truly a classic one that I believe you must experience this summer.

Want to see how the fireworks light up the night sky amazingly in Niigata? The perfect choice for you to do is the fireworks festival I just mentioned a moment ago. A lot of visitors coming from different places across the country gather on the river bank of the Shinano River near the bridge and enjoy thousands of mind-blowing fireworks displays that illuminate the night sky stunningly.

If you follow this itinerary right from the start, then you will be spending a glorious evening time on the 2nd of August, 2019. Check out the festival date and time here. Stay overnight in Niigata.

Hotel to stay in Niigata: Comfort Hotel Niigata.

Day 6 in Akita

A glimpse of the Akita Kanto Matsuri. Photo Credit: Rosino at Flickr.

You come to Akita for one really good reason and that’s for participating in the fascinating Akita Kanto Matsuri. It is one of the three main festivals of the Tohoku region that has been designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property. Every year, the festival is held from August 3 to 6.

What makes this festival so great? The festival’s main highlight is the night parades along Chuo Dori Street. Highly experienced kanto performers amaze the spectators with their skills in balancing long bamboo poles (kanto). Each and every pole is attached with arrays of paper lanterns and they look pretty gorgeous when they are lit up with candles.

You will be impressed seeing the techniques of balancing kanto by the performers. In fact, they are not allowed to use their hands when they are to balance their kanto. Don’t you think that’s crazy to leave you speechless?

Perfect! he has done it. Photo Credit: hildgrim at Flickr.

A visit to Akita in summer is incomplete if you don’t witness the kanto festival atmosphere. Therefore, before you visit to Akita, especially in summer, make sure you arrive there at the right time before the festival ends.

Please note that you can take Inaho (an inter city train) to get to Akita from Niigata. This limited express train is fast and offers you to see endless beautiful landscapes along the way.

It is recommended to stay a night in Akita. The next morning you go to Aomori by limited express train, it takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes. I guarantee you that the ride would be a hilarious experience for you.

Hotel to stay in Akita: Dormy Inn Akita.

Day 7 in Aomori

A giant illuminated Nebuta! Photo Credit: POHAN CHEN at Flickr.

Your last destination of this summer trip ends in Aomori. It has so many things to offer you to make your trip unforgettable. One of the things could be its iconic Aomori Nebuta Festival, don’t you think so? I always like the way it is celebrated where massive illuminated Nebuta (floats) are pulled by the local participants.

During the parades, dancers dance wearing beautiful traditional summer outfits, cool music is played and the giant nebuta are pushed, together they create a great festive atmosphere, no doubt about that!

You will never ever be sick seeing their performances down the street, instead you would like to join them in, and entertain yourself dancing with them. Anyway, that would be a great idea! Read this useful guide to know the perfect way to participate in and enjoy the festival. Please note that every year, the festival is held from August 2 to 7.

Hotel to stay in Aomori: Hotel Route-Inn Aomori Ekimae.

Does it give you some ideas on how to plan a trip to Japan this summer? I think it does and if you think that you don’t want to stay 3 days in Tokyo but wish to have a day trip somewhere around from there then prefer visiting Hakone, Yokohama, and Nikko. Thank you and wishing you all the best.