Like many parts of the world, Japan has 4 distinct seasons.
While summer may not be the most popular time of the year to visit, there are unique experiences that can only be enjoyed during the hotter months, which spans from the end of June through the second half of September.
Here are the 3 things you don't want to miss when travelling to Japan in the summer.
1. Immerse yourself in festivals and Obon traditions
Summer in Japan brings vibrant festivals and age-old traditions associated with Obon, a time when people honour the spirits of their ancestors. It’s usually from August the 13th to August the 16th in most parts of Japan.
The Gozan no Okuribi festival in Kyoto is a remarkable event where giant bonfires are lit on mountains, symbolising the spirits' departure back to the spirit world.
Even in local areas, you may come across events such as the bon odori dancing, which is performed during the summer festivals and has traditionally been held to welcome and pay tribute to the deceased.
2. Embrace traditional summer items
To combat the heat and humidity, Japanese people utilize special items that enhance their summer experiences. One such item is the yukata, a lightweight cotton kimono worn during summer festivals and bon odori dancing. The yukata's breathability and comfort make it the ideal garment for navigating hot and humid conditions.
Additionally, the soothing sound of wind chimes, known as Furin, brings a sense of tranquility and relief. Being hung from eaves of traditional Japanese houses and at shrine buildings, these delicate glass ornaments provide respite from the summer heat when the wind gently rustles through them.
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3. Indulge in seasonal foods and sweets
Japanese cuisine celebrates seasonal flavors, and summer is no exception. Beat the heat with refreshing summer treats like Kakigoori, a shaved ice dessert topped with various flavored syrups such as strawberry or green tea.
To combat fatigue, relish the nutritional benefits of eel (unagi), a popular summer delicacy. Another delightful option is sweetfish, a type of river fish enjoyed by locals at riverside restaurants, providing both a cool dining environment and nourishment. Finally, savor the thin and delectable Soumen noodles, typically garnished with ginger and spring onions.
They are a perfect option to stimulate your appetite during the hot summer days.
All these things are what you can only experience during Japan’s hot and humid summer. Incorporating an idea or two into your itinerary will make your trip much more meaningful and memorable and should help deepen your understanding of Japan’s rich culture and traditions.
Keen to find out more? Click here to listen to the Japan Experts Podcast episode!