Spending a Summer in Japan
Summer in Japan is an experience unlike any other. During the summer months daily temperatures often reach and exceed 30 degrees, a heat which is often coupled with an unrelenting humidity. However, summer is also a great time to travel to Japan as the busier spring season has come to an end and the ‘low season’ of summer means you can benefit from cheaper flights and hotels. So grab an authentic Japanese fan, dress in the ultimate summer staple and enjoy an unforgettable summer experience in Japan!
It’s difficult to visit Japan during the summer months and not witness one of the many matsuri (festivals) which take place. Japan has become famous for its festival culture which often consists of many outdoor celebrations, eclectic food stalls full of authentic Japanese food all washed down with traditional beer and sake and finished off with a visual feast of fireworks and parades.
The Obon national holiday is a traditional Japanese Buddhist custom which occurs in early August and is a dedicated time of year to welcome back family ancestors into the family household. On the first day of Obon, many people light lanterns to guide their spiritual ancestors back home to unite once again and eat, drink and celebrate being together once more.
The Awa Odori Festival occurs during the Obon holiday period and consists of a tightly choreographed dance which has been practiced for months in advance and includes traditional music with instruments such as taiko drums and bells. The Obon holiday period is a beautiful Japanese tradition focusing on the importance of family and celebrates a united sense of fulfilment which can be felt all around Japan during this time.
One of the biggest festivals which is celebrated in late August is the Dai-Chochin Matsuri (Giant Lantern Festival). This festival is said to ward off evil spirits, produce a fruitful harvest and prays for calm and peaceful seas. The legend which surrounds this festival dates back over 450 years and the ancient belief that evil sea demons resided in the sea and if provoked, could emerge and cause harm to fishermen, affect the crops and ravage the fields. Japanese people light the lanterns to drive away the evil spirits and protect against any harmful interference with vital food sources.
The chochin (giant paper lanterns) are renowned for their size which measure over 5 metres in diameter and 10 metres in length. Japanese characters and imagery are drawn on to every lantern to embody a diverse range of stories which make up the celebration. Once lit and released, the twelve lanterns create a breath-taking scene which can be seen for miles, a festival which truly celebrates the magic of Japanese customs.
If you’re the sporty type, hiking and mountain-climbing is a pursuit which can be enjoyed throughout the year too. Though the summer heat may not lend itself to any high-intensity exercise at sea-level, up in the mountainous regions of Japan, temperatures remain cool and comfortable, perfect for capturing some spectacular views of Japan.
Some noteworthy high-altitude hotspots in Japan are Kamikochi and the mountainous areas in Kii Peninsula and if you fancy a real hiking challenge, Mount Fuji’s climbing season begins in early July and runs through until September. Although it is difficult ascent and a real achievement to reach the top, you don’t need any previous technical mountaineering experience to give it a go and you have the unique opportunity to see Japan through the clouds.
Whatever your plans are for a summer in Japan, there are plenty of festivals to see, celebrations to take part in and picturesque locations to visit. Visit our website and browse any last minute Japanese holiday essentials such as the Japanese kimono or an authentic Japanese folding fan to keep you cool whilst you explore everything Japan has to offer and keep an eye on our blog for the latest festival updates, information about Japanese customs and tips and advice about all things Japanese!