Summer Activities you Can Do in Japan
Rainy seasons, temperatures that can rise and exceed 30ºC of heat and a suffocating humidity. It’s normal that for many of those who live here, summer in Japan is the time of year that they least like. In fact, there are some who even hate it. But the truth is that despite the heat, summer in Japan is also one of the favorite times of many. Since there are tons of fun activities that you can only do in summer!
Fireworks display, summer festivals, wear a yukata, eat kakigori and more. If you are in Japan at this time of year, here are my top 6 of the best activities to enjoy the summer like a Japanese, whether you live here or are just traveling.
1. Enjoy the Fireworks
The star activity of the summer in Japan is without a doubt, fireworks! The famous display of fireworks, called hanabitaikai (花火大会) in Japanese.
By the way, as a curiosity, the word hanabi (花火), which is what means fireworks, is made up of the kanji for ‘flower’(花-hana-) and ‘fire’ (火-bi-), so the translation would be something similar to ‘fire flowers’. Beautiful, right?
2. Eat Kakigori
I already said that the temperatures in summer are very high. So nothing better than cooling off with a shaved ice! Kakigori (かき氷) is one of the most popular foods at summer festivals and in cafes and street stalls.
Kakigori consists of crushed ice with flavored syrup. You can add a single flavor, or as many as you want! (all that are available). Sometimes you can also add a topping. For example, the most popular combination among the Japanese is kakigori with matcha tea syrup and anko.
It seems simple, but it’s delicious and very refreshing. But an advice: don’t eat it too fast or it could give you a headache!
3. Wear a Yukata
The yukata (浴衣) is what is known as “the summer kimono”. A kimono is very expensive and it costs a lot to put it on by yourself without help if you are not an expert or you already have practice. The yukata is a much simpler and cooler version of a kimono, which is used especially in summer. It’s easier to put on and also cheaper.
There is nothing more typical in Japan in summer than wearing your yukata while enjoying fireworks or a summer festival!
▶Yukata: How to Wear & Where to Buy/Rent
▶ 7 Best Kimono/Yukata Rental in Tokyo
4. Crack a Watermelon
Manga and anime fans probably already know this, but one of the funniest activities of the Japanese summer is undoubtedly breaking a watermelon while blindfolded. Normally, this activity is done on the beach, either with your family or friends.
It looks a lot like the typical piñatas in other countries that are broken blindfolded while others give you directions, but with a watermelon.
5. Go to a Summer Festival
A summer in Japan is not a summer in Japan without the summer festivals, known as Natsu Matsuri (夏祭り) in Japanese. There are different festivals for different reasons, and they are not all the same, but traditionally at festivals a mikoshi (神輿) or portable shrine is paraded and there are street stalls with food and games (like the typical game of catching fish with a net).
There are many festivals, from big to small. If you don’t like large crowds of people, you can go to a neighborhood festival that is smaller but also more charming.
▶ Japan’s 3 Biggest Festivals in July
▶ Japan’s 5 Biggest Festivals in August
▷ Japan’s biggest summer festivals and fireworks in summer!
▷ 10 Must-See Summer Festivals in Tokyo
6. Try Nagashi Somen
There are many typical summer dishes, such as Higashi Chuya (a kind of cold ramen), but I have chosen Nagashi Somen (流しそうめん) because it’s not only about the food itself, but also about the way to eat it. Nagashi Somen is the funniest dish of the Japanese summer!
Somen is a type of noodle made with wheat flour and can be eaten in various ways. For Nagashi Somen, the noodles (previously boiled) are thrown down a bamboo chute through which ice-cold water runs and you have to “hunt” them with chopsticks to be able to eat them. So, the most skilled and fast can eat more! Kids love it.
▶ 8 Japanese Foods You should Try in Summer!
These are my recommendations to spend a fun and unforgettable summer in Japan and create precious memories! How would you like to spend summer in Japan? For more tips on what to do or see in summer in Japan, you can check these articles too 😉