Summer Travel Guide

10 Best Things to do in Japan in Summer

For tourists, Japan in summer is very entertaining that highlights some of its stunning annual festivals to experience and enjoy. Besides, visitors can have a lot fun exploring breathtaking places like Hokkaido and Tokyo. You can also enjoy eating the traditional Japanese summer dishes throughout the country.

Many people like walking down the streets of old towns by wearing colorful Yukata and it’s considered a fun outdoor activity in this season.

Summer is a fun time though it involves with a rainy season. Excessive rain fall may hamper your trips, but you don’t have to worry much. I like the rainy days and enjoy going out to see tons of beautiful hydrangeas.

Fireworks in Kamakura during summer. Photo Credit: Tak H. at Flickr.

In Japan, summer is associated with fireworks (Hanabi) and festival (Matsuri). In fact, a number of popular fireworks festivals take place across Japan. For example, the Aomori Nebuta Festival, a festival of colorful massive floats where the festival ends with an amazing firework display around the Aomori Bay. Indeed, the sight is amazing to behold!

I know how amazing it can be when you participate in this glittering festival. There are other notable Japanese summer festivals a tourist can expect to discover, especially in July, the seventh month of the year.

If you come from a place/region where it rarely celebrates fireworks festivals, Japan’s beautiful hanabi festivals would be particularly worth seeing.

Along with featuring some greatest Japanese summer festivals here in this post, I would like to share something extraordinary that you would like to experience in Japan in the summertime. Enjoy!

1) Climb the Mt. Fuji

Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko, Japan. Photo Credit: Guilhem Vellut at Flickr.

Are you adventurous? Do you like hiking? If your answer is YES – then I would say, climbing the Mt. Fuji is one of the greatest things you would do in the summer in Japan.

I always hate rating things like “this is the number 1 spot, or that is the number 1 spot” or something like that. When this post’s headline says the top 10 then prefer each and every things here deserves to be the number one.

Once climbing Mt. Fuji was my dream, my dream came true a long time ago. Is it also your dream? The summer season opens the door to experience this never forgetting trip. I suggest you to take this opportunity right away. Please bear in mind that official Mt. Fuji climbing season starts from early July to early September.

Before you attempt to climb the mountain, you should read this complete guide or the things you must know before climbing Mt. Fuji. This certainly helps you to climb the Mt. Fuji without having any trouble.

And don’t forget to take a good look at this backpack which I strongly recommend you to have on the way to the summit.

2) Participate in the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri

Illuminated Nebuta (Floats) at Aomori Nebuta Festival. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

What’s Nebuta? It is simply means a float. It is a kind of fire festival and one of the best summer festivals in Tohoku region.

Giant illuminated floats are taken to the streets in which participants form a parade. Dancing and other entertaining shows take place there as the floats are pulled through the processionals route of streets.

The festival involves with a spectacular firework display on the final day of the festival. In fact, this is not a two or three days of festival rather it is celebrated for a week. You can read more about Aomori Nebuta Festival in detail here.

3) Visit Flower Gardens in Furano & Biei

Lavender fields in Nakafurano area. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Unlike other parts of Japan, Hokkaido is a less warmer place to discover even in the summer. The weather out there does not act like Tokyo’s summer. Everything is cool there, such as the weather, atmosphere, foods, nature, landscapes and the people.

Hokkaido has many wonderful attractions that are extremely great to visit in summer. For example, you can visit Furnao and Biei to see picturesque flower fields and gardens including beautiful lavender farms. Your eyes will never bother gazing at the vast fields of lavender and the mountains in the distance.

You can buy various lavender themed products from different shops located at various lavender farms in Furano area. Usually in Furano, the flower season begins in early July though the best time to see lavender in Mid-July. Here you can find the 10 most beautiful flower farms you could visit in Furano & Biei.

4) Visit Kyoto for Gion Matsuri

Yes, it is a colorful festival in Kyoto! Photo Credit: Takeshi Kuboki at Flickr.

Kyoto Gion Matsuri is an ancient event and one of the biggest festivals in Japan. I believe this would be an amazing experience for anyone even when you are not interested in knowing Japanese culture. This is the true symbol of Kyoto’s old tradition, which is colorful, fun and simply unforgettable.

Often people say that if you are to explore old Japan then head to Kyoto! To be honest with you, they don’t lie to you. And visiting Kyoto often refers to exploring its beautiful temples and shrines.

Describing about Gion Matsuri is kind of a mess to me. I don’t know which one to focus on first and then jump onto to the next one. I just lose my soul in order to do that.

Maybe it is because of over excitement. Though, a few things I must share with you that – the festival beings in July every year. Take note every year the festival is celebrated the entire month of July.

There is a schedule which is followed by the people to make it well organized. The festival consists of different events, such as the grand procession of floats, parades and so on. July 17th is the most exciting day of the festival as the grand procession of floats takes place on this day.

5) Have Fun Time at Sumo Nagoya Basho

Sumo wrestlers at Grand Nagoya Sumo Tournament. Photo Credit: Cesar I. Martins at Flickr.

Summertime Sumo! Sumo Nagoya Basho is one of the six yearly Grand Sumo Tournaments, held in Nagoya at the venue Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium. The tournament will be held from July 14 to July 28, 2024.

From the venue, the great Nagoya Castle is not far away. Therefore, a visit to Nagoya to see the Grand Sumo Tournament gives you an opportunity to explore the Castle area and other interesting attractions located nearby.

Professional sumo wrestlers gather here in a big event like this. Each and every contender aims to win the tournament. It is not only fun to watch their sumo skills but also you can feel the joy of every sumo wrestler that wins a match.

6) Watch Fireworks Displays – Sumida River Fireworks

Sumida River Fireworks Display, Tokyo. Photo Credit: Toru MORI at Flickr.

It is a summer tradition to see fireworks wearing summer yukata in Japan. There is no possible way you can visit each and every fireworks festivals in the country, so do your research ahead of time and plan where you want to go.

Sumida River Fireworks is the most popular and oldest hanabi matsuri in Japan that takes place along the Sumida River around Asakusa Station.

Viewing the glittering explosion of fireworks from the Sumida Park is a unique experience. About one million visitors visit this summer matsuri every year. The nearby streets get crowded with enthusiastic foreign tourists and locals.

The streets are filled with food stalls from where you can find the finest street foods and various drinks of Japan.

7) Dancing at Gujo Odori in Gifu

Keep Dancing until the music stops, Gujo Odori, Gifu. Photo Credit: つだ at Flickr.

Gujo odori is a bon/obon dance festival that carries over the 400 years of history and tradition. Here, obon is a Japanese Buddhist tradition to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors.

It is said to be one of the three most popular traditional bon dance festivals and a Significant Intangible Cultural Folk Asset of Japan.

One of the main features of this festival is – it consists of ten dances and corresponding songs. I think these are valuable and priceless.

In the center of the dancing circle there is a small float in which a small group of singers and musicians perform their duty. You can find more info about Gujo Odori here.

8) Eat Morioka Reimen

Morioka reimen. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

This is neither a place nor a festival but a popular Japanese noodle dish. If you are going to visit Japan this summer, having finest noodle dish like Morioka Reimen is a must thing to do.

This type of Japanese ramen is one of the famous local foods of Morioka city, located in Iwate prefecture. As it is a cold noodle dish, having a bowl of morioka reimen in a hot humid day will definitely make you feel great, both mentally and physically.

If you have no time to taste this food in Morioka city, then find it to Pyon Pyon Sha outlet located in Tokyo. I hope you will find it there. Are you interested in knowing more about this special dish, please find more info here.

Japan is seen to be the country with a lot of different kind of noodle dishes. You can learn some delicious noodles recipes here.

9) Head to Fukuoka to See the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

I sometimes have to think that there is no other breathtaking festival in Japan like Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival. According to my experience, it is unique in other way.

The festival is held from July 1 to 15 at Kushida-jinja Shrine in Fukuoka city. The festival is all about a time trial race of a five kilometer long course where seven neighborhoods of Fukuoka’s Hakata district compete in bearing 1-ton floats on the day of July 15. It takes place very early in the morning.

The first team starts its race just before sunrise at 4:59 AM followed by the other teams in five minute intervals. Before the main event day, from July 10 to 14, each team performs several practice runs.

There are two different types of floats: kazariyama (decorated floats) and kakiyama (carried floats). And Kazariyama floats are displayed across the city from July 1 to 14. You can take a good look at them and take a lot of photographs if you wish to.

10) Visit Osaka to see Tenjin Matsuri

The River Procession, Tenjin Matsuri. Photo Credit: elmimmo at Flickr.

Here comes the number ten – the famous Tenjin Matsuri of Osaka!

Over time, Osaka has been a popular destination like Tokyo for many tourists. Do you know why? There are a lot of factors involved with it, let’s not discuss them all here rather I should reveal one of the top 3 festivals of Japan. Yes that’s called Tenjin Matsuri. It is a thousand years tradition to honor Sugawara Michizane (the deity of scholarship).

It is truly an unbelievable summer festival takes place on July 24 and 25 every year at Osaka Tenmngu Shrine.

The festival is eye-catching as there are events like the land and river procession, prayers at the river, carrying Michizane’s carriage, and fireworks display. You can see the whole story how to it begins and ends here.

In conclusion, I believe these are enough to make your Japan’s summer trip overwhelming. Even though these are the best things you must do in Japan in summer, I guess there are other things you can reveal by yourself while traveling around the country.

I wish you good luck and hopefully you are on the right path. Thank you.