Each of the four seasons (well, practically 5 with the rainy season) brings its own specialties to Japan, makes it an interesting travel destination all year around. Snow for winter, sakura for spring, sunny beach for summer, and colorful leaves for autumn, are just general ideas of what you can find on each season. Event though most tourist attractions will open through the year, but there are several things that Japanese (and tourists) can experience only during summer time. That could mean one thing; beyond-imagination crowd will happen. So if you are here in summer, these are the list of activities you might not, or maybe you might, want to miss.
1. Don't Forget Your Swim Wear
Japan has countless of beautiful beaches. They are open for visitors all year (of course), but summer is the only time when people are actually allowed to do water activities like swimming, surfing, or just laying down on the sands. Exception is for Okinawa beaches that open earlier (around April), thanks to their warmer climate.
Same goes with water parks and outdoor pools which operate only in July-August since it will be too cold to swim on the other months. People surely doesn't want to miss this chance that leads to human-sardines in almost every beaches and pools. It could be painful, but hey, it's part of the fun! Moreover, it's just between us, you can even find new crush there. Hmm...
2. Fight for A Spot to See Firework Festivals
Japanese people LOVE festivals (matsuri). There are a lot of festivals all-year, but summer has the most of it. The most anticipated event is firework festivals. Hundreds of firework shows will be held across the nation, but the oldest and most famous are the Sumida River Fireworks and Tokyo Bay Fireworks (both are in Tokyo). You will see nothing but mind-blowing firework and people will make war to get the best viewing spot. Some people will reserve restaurant or hotel which offers fireworks view at least 6 months before, while some other groups will even camp over nights just to make sure they get the best place.
In addition, two of Japan's greatest festivals; Gion matsuri in Kyoto and Tenjin matsuri in Osaka, also occur in summer. You will have the chance to see many pretty Japanese girls wearing yukata (summer version of kimono) and buy Japanese street snacks from the stalls during the festivals. Make sure you check festival schedules before you go because every area will have their own schedule.
3. Be One With Nature
For outdoor lovers, summer is probably the best season in a year. Only in summer hiking trails will be opened, and camping, rafting, climbing, and all sorts of outdoor activities will be alive during summer. So what are you waiting for? Pack your gears up and be amazed of Japan scenic natures.
4. Grill Some (More) Meats Outside
Yeah! Summer is perfect time for barbecue party! As long as it is permitted BBQ area; camping ground, river side, sea side, mountain, or maybe in your house's backyard, you can do BBQ party everywhere. Prepare picnic mats, gather up with your families and friends, sip on cold drinks, and just talking non-sense. What can be more fantastic than eating good foods with good companions in a good place and weather?
5. Eat Summer Foods
The foods we listed below might be available in all season, but they are especially popular during summer. One of the most interesting summer food is Nagashi-Soumen; a very thin Japanese white noodles placed in water flowing down a long bamboo shoot. The fun part is, it challenges you to catch the slippery noodle before it's going pass through you. Good exercise to train your chopstick skill, eh?
Another popular food is Unadon, a bowl of rice with grilled eel coated by sweetened soy sauce as the topping. Japanese believes that eel will provide them stamina to overcome summer weariness.
For dessert, you can't miss Kakigori, shaved ice flavored with various syrups and toppings. It truly feels like an oasis in a desert. And when you finish the day by eating the most famous summer fruit, watermelon, you can say your Japanese summer experience is complete already.
Regardless the time of your arrival, Japan will offer you endless interesting activities to try for. Summer heat might be too scorching, but it is probably the most alive season of all due to the longest day time and brightest weather. Have you planned your summer vacation already?