Many people visit Tokyo in spring to enjoy cherry blossom season or in autumn to see the beautiful fall foliage, but the summer in Tokyo is also worth a visit!
In summer you can see all sorts of flowers blooming, and Japan is speckled with beautiful colors. In addition, there are many temple festivals, events, fireworks and more throughout the country! All these activities are a lot of fun to enjoy solo or with family, and make summertime in Japan so enjoyable.
Plus, there's a secret that not all travelers know about: summer is also discount season for shopping! You can actually find massive bargains on a good variety of items - from clothes to electronics. Here we'll introduce all about summer in Tokyo and how much fun you can have this season!
Summer in Japan: Big discount season! Join the shopping frenzy
When you come to Tokyo, you'll likely want to buy a variety of different things. At the same time, though you're in vacation mode, you'll want to save money while enjoying your holiday.
Fortunately, summer in Japan is bargain season! You can find 20% and even 30% off at many shops. Even at big-box electronics stores, you'll find crazy sale prices that will make you want to buy a second suitcase just for goodies!
Traditional Matsuri Festivals: One of Japan's most anticipated events in summer!
Every year from July to August, there is a peaceful and joyful atmosphere throughout Japan, as festival season sets in. Here, a variety of events - like carnivals - are can be seen in the streets nationwide.
The big festival times include the Bon Festival Dance (Bon Odori) season and the Tanabata Festival, in addition to numerous fireworks festivals. Plus, there are also a variety of local events where mikoshi (portable shrines) are paraded around neighborhoods and towns by different teams. It's a great photo op!
In addition, men, women, and children all wear summer kimono - yukata - while dancing in the streets or visiting temple fairs. These sights alone have attracted countless visitors from abroad to share in the joyful atmosphere of Japanese festivals.
In the Tokyo area, one of the highlights is the traditional Awa-Odori Dance Festival, which originated in the 16th century. It's also considered one of the city's most famous and lively festivals.
One of the features of the Awa-Odori Dance is the light rhythm and coordination of dancers. The rhythm is easy enough to pick up for beginners and the music is easy enough to remember - join in and let your feet dance happily with neighbors!
Originating in Tokushima Prefecture, this dance has become popular in many parts of Japan. The grand Awa-Odori Dance performances can be enjoyed at the Koenji Shopping Street in Tokyo, the Kagurazaka Shopping Street, and the Nakamurabashi Shopping Street in Nerima. Check out the link below to see more about this famous fest!
One that simply can't be missed at each of these events are the food stalls (called yattai) set up in a night market fashion. Here you'll discover a variety of Japanese snacks, sweets and foods that will captivate your taste buds.
Among these will be things like takoyaki, yakisoba, shaved ice, yakitori barbecue skewers, and so many more things! Feel the festival charm while enjoying some of the fantastic street foods.
In addition to seeing the different festivals at temples and around neighborhoods, another way to get a taste of Japanese culture is by boat!
Japan's "houseboats" (or Yakatabune) are amusement boats built for dining and drinking parties during the summer. Reserve your seat at one some summer evening and you can enjoy delicious Japanese cuisine while the city scenery drifts by. And for a special evening to remember, get your spot early and enjoy an evening illuminated by fireworks along the Sumida River or around Tokyo Bay! It will definitely leave you with unforgettable memories.
Enjoy a day trip away from Tokyo during the summer: Top 3 places!
1. Enjoy a day in the ancient capital of Kamakura and Enoshima
When thinking about must-visit places for a day trip from Tokyo, Kamakura and Enoshima is definitely a first-choice! Although they are excellent spots to visit in any season, they are especially beautiful in summer.
From June, gorgeous hydrangeas begin blooming around the Tokyo area. Several temples around Kamakura, including Meigetsuin Temple and Hase Temple, are host to a variety of different kinds of hydrangea. Shutterbugs from all over Japan (and the world as well) come for a look.
Meigetsuin Temple, nicknamed the Hydrangea Temple, has around 2,500 in bloom during this point. The vivid blue blossoms are soothing in their presence, and the contrasting color between this and the green of the adjacent small bamboo grove will simply make you pause and smile. Be sure to come and enjoy it!
There are many other ancient temples and natural attractions around the Kamakura area. To take in the sights, you can take advantage of the discounted one-day ticket for the Enoden rail line, or if you feel inclined, arrive earlier in the morning (before 10 a.m. or so) and rent bicycles for the day to see everything at your pace.
Some particularly recommended sights include the bamboo temple, Hokokuji; Tsugaoka Hachimangu Shrine; the Great Buddha of Kamakura; Hase Temple; and Enoshima Island.
From Enoshima Island in particular, you should be able to get an excellent view of Mt. Fuji at sunset, often seen peeking out from the clouds. Along Enoshima's beautiful coastline are also a number of eateries where you can enjoy the relaxing ocean view while sipping on a local craft beer - or munching on local seafood.
2. Rent a kimono and stroll the old-fashioned streets of Kawagoe!
Just a 30-minute train ride away from Tokyo is the old city of Kawagoe. During the Edo period it was a particularly prosperous area, and nowadays you can see many preserved period buildings along its streets!
Because of the convenient access and close proximity to Tokyo, Kawagoe has become quite popular as a tourist destination in recent years. But if you really want to experience the local charms, you must rent a kimono or yukata and stroll around!
Along the grand streets are many beautiful old buildings, plus shops selling traditional foods, snacks, and more. It's something of a treasure hunt for your palate! One of the draws especially in summer, between July and September, is at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine - when wind chimes are hung outdoors. During this season, around 2,000 cute and colorful wind chimes adorn the area around the shrine, which is known as a shrine for romance. A very romantic scene indeed!
At the end of your sojourn, be sure to indulge in some of the local Japanese sweets!
3. Enjoy 'Forest Bathing' and beers atop Mt. Takao!
Visit Tokyo during the hot summer months, and you'll want to seek a refreshing natural landscape! Mt. Takao is the tallest mountain in Tokyo and its serene landscape and history have earned it three stars in the Michelin Green Guide.
In fact, Mt. Takao is a sight to enjoy in every season! Its cherry blossoms in spring beckon crowds of shutterbugs; its breathtaking fall foliage does the same. And in summer, when many people seek to get outside the city, it becomes a destination for hikers seeking fresh air and lush greenery.
And if you are not a hiker, worry not: you can take the cable car up the mountain as well, or the chairlift! But if you do choose to hike, you'll pass by several interesting areas along the way: from the monkey park to the several temples and shrines, and even the waterfalls.
Once you reach the top of the mountain, though, you'll be rewarded with a view of the Kanto Plain: Tokyo in the distance, and on a clear day, the top of Mt. Fuji beyond. And you can enjoy a cup of tea or a pint of beer here as well!
In fact, in the evening there isn't a need to rush down the mountain. As the sun dips low and the birds begin singing, you'll find a buzz of people at the beer garden. Surrounded by forest and stars, it's the perfect place to enjoy a few frosty ones.
And before heading back to town, you can even enjoy a nice soak at the nearby hot spring - what a way to end a day!
Summer in Tokyo is filled with energy and fun! You can enjoy shopping in major department stores and boutiques - and get some fantastic bargains as well. You can also enjoy traditional festivals and foods, even dance and drink with locals. Or if that's not quite your cup of tea, you can enjoy a day trip away from Tokyo and savor a beachside sunset at one of Japan's former capitals. These colorful suggestions will add depth to your trip - enjoy your time this summer!