Summertime in Japan is one of the busiest times for Japanese tourism. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful week in the countryside, or you’re looking to hit up some of Tokyo’s largest shopping districts, you are sure to encounter some of these commonalities during the Japanese summer, so prepare!
In general, all of Japan is quite humid during its summer season, with the northeastern side being the mildest. Parts of western Japan, including Tokyo, can swelter up to 35°C or more!
One of the first things you are bound to notice after you exit your plane in Narita is the humidity. Waves of damp air are bound to hit you as you make your way through the airport and immigration. But not to worry! Japan is home of all things nifty and neat.
Stroll into any home goods store and you’re bound to find a wide variety of small gadgets to get you from point A to point B during your Japanese vacation without being drenched in sweat.
A few of these inventions include:
- Small portable USB-charging fans that you can easily carry in your bag or wear around your neck. Many of these come with removable neck straps so that you can use them during any time of the day.
- Neck coolers, reusable ice packs that can be worn around your neck to keep you cool, especially when spending a lot of time outdoors.
- Cooling tissues, a go-to to quickly cool down and refresh. These can be purchased from most convenience stores for under 500 yen.
Regardless if you are spending time in the city or countryside, you are bound to be greeted at some point by some little critter crawlers (or fliers!). You are likely to be greeted by some bug friends that may look different to the summertime bugs that you are used to in your home country. Some of the most common bugs you will find in Japan between May and August are:
- Cockroaches (Gokiburi)
- House centipede (Gejigeji)
- Tatami mites/Bed bugs (Dani)
- Large hornet (Suzumebachi)
Lack of AC (especially in the countryside)
Although more common in the countryside, you are likely to find lack of air conditioning in several unsuspecting establishments.
Take locally-owned restaurants, for example.
Maybe you’re really looking forward to finally trying an authentic bowl of ramen for the first time. Heads up, unless it’s a popular chain-restaurant, you’re probably going to be entering a small, hot building, with nothing more than a fan or two to cool you off. Chances are, if you’re American, you’ll be surprised at just how hot restaurants can get in Japan.
Finding well air-conditioned establishments can sometimes feel like a bit of a hat draw, so it is best to come prepared to deal with the heat.
“Cool-biz,” Airism, and other cool-tech clothing
To better deal with the heat, many Japanese clothing brands have come out with their own clothes that are meant to help wearers better traverse through the heat, especially since walking and biking are common modes of transportation in Japan–chances are that you will be spending a lot of time outside, too.
Most of these brands don’t boast steep prices and are quite affordable.
Airism is a line released during the spring and summer from UNIQLO. It features a variety of clothes and accessories that can be worn to help wick sweat away without bogging your apparel down in sweat.
If planning a trip to Japan during the spring or summertime, it is imperative to include a few pit stops around the country to experience summer festivals.
During spring, you needn’t search far no matter where you are to find beautiful cherry blossom trees. Many parks open free entry festivals.
While wearing a yukata, enjoy viewing the beautiful blossoms while eating any of the dozens of the delicious local foods, original to the area that you are visiting.
It is important to note that cherry blossoms do not bloom at the same time throughout all of Japan, and it will be important to check the blooming dates for the area that you will be visiting before.
Outside of cherry blossom season, there are many popular summer festivals to check out. Some of the most popular festivals include:
- Gion Matsuri (Kyoto)
- Aomori Nebuta Matsuri (Aomori City)
- Sendai Tanabata Festival (Sendai)
- Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival (Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture)
- Mitama Festival (Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo)
Each festival features a different celebration, often honoring ancestors. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about Japanese history, as well.
Golden Week in Japan always takes place during the first week of May. It is a string of holidays that fall in line with each other, thus being grouped together as a week-long holiday.
During this time, many workers take time off for vacation, so traveling can be a bit hectic during this time. That being said, there are a variety of discounts and deals that you can take advantage of, whether it be flights or train rides.
Your first summer in Japan will be one to remember. Be sure to stock up on some cooling products to beat the heat and prepare yourself for entering a hot electric fan-cooled building or restaurant at least once. Plan out which festivals you want to check out, beat the crowds during Golden Week, and always, always stay clear of the bugs… the best you can.