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Experiences best in summer vs other seasons? 2020/9/22 05:52
Sorry for posting in here so shortly after my last one! I'm hoping this thread might be useful for others as well. :)

Basically, you see a lot online that certain activities and locations are ideal in the spring or fall...but what about the summer? It's the most feasible time to travel for a lot of people (me included), and it can be disheartening seeing people say how much better everything is in spring/fall. I do love autumn foliage, and it's a shame I won't be able to see it, but I'm sure summer has some unique upsides to it I'm not aware of.

So, what do you think is best experienced in the summer? I'm already aware of the various summer festivals (which are definitely a big draw!) and slightly more obscurely nagashi-somen, which seems like something you can only do easily in the summer months.
by Serenroc  

Re: Experiences best in summer vs other seasons? 2020/9/22 10:58
It's pretty simple - go North. The wilderness of Hokkaido and Tohoku can be spectacular. The summer wildflowers can be amazing along limited rain compared to down south.

When I went to Rishiri and Rebun Island in July a couple of years ago one days top temperature was 12C - but the nature walks were some of the best I've seen.

I do find the Hokkaido is mainly known for it's natural beauty - but not so much it's history apart from the last 150 years. The direct opposite can be said for Tohoku - which has lots of history and amazing beauty.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Experiences best in summer vs other seasons? 2020/9/22 11:42
I would certainly recommend going north, simply because the weather further down becomes unbearably humid. It makes for very unpleasant sightseeing! I have visited Japan in all seasons and summer was definitely my least favourite.
by / (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Experiences best in summer vs other seasons? 2020/9/22 13:33

Outside of this year, I've gone mid June to early July the last few years. It is hot and humid, and it is worse some places than others, but I actually sort of like it. Mid-June to July is hydrangea season. Since you're going to be in the Kansai area presumably, I would recommend Mimurotoji in Uji for hydrangea viewing we loved Yoshimunedera just outside of Kyoto proper. We tried to go to another hydrangea festival last year and it was a complete disaster. If we'd gone this year we would have tried Ohara. I liked doing ninja training in the Summer, it was better for when I fell in the river 3 times.

I went to Tohoku also in June and July and had a great time and if you flew, you could do that as a weekend away, but it definitely helps to rent a car.

A lot of people like to hike and climb in the Summer. There are lots of trails that mostly only open in the Summer. I wouldn't be surprised if Koya-san wasn't too bad in the Summer. I've only been once, and it was in November and quite cold. There were already some piles of snow.

Depending on where you are from, it varies how bad you will find the heat and humidity. If you are European, it will just be miserable, if you're from somewhere within the US that has Summer hear and humidity it is manageable.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Experiences best in summer vs other seasons? 2020/9/22 14:47
If you handle the heat well (unlike me), summer can be an enjoyable season :
- There are many matsuri in summer.
- It is a good time to visit mountainous onsen towns.
- You also have more daylight in summer, allowing for more sightseeing (especially gardens and shrines that close at sunset).
- Hiking.
by ML (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Experiences best in summer vs other seasons? 2020/9/22 19:11
Aside from festivals and events, some other summer things:
-Mountain climbing, many don't operate during the rest of the year.
-Nature hiking like in Kamikochi
-Tambo Art (Rice Paddy Art), these are great if you find one with a theme you like or that is impressive. Aomori has a very famous one but they can be found throughout the country.
-Scenic rice paddies can also be beautiful in the summer. Japan has many.
-Fruit Travel, some famous fruits such as peaches, watermelons, melons, biwa, kabosu, sudachi, mangoes, berries, etc are all summer fruits. You can find places to pick them if that interests you, but in places where they are famous there are often seasonal foods that feature them. For example, Okayama is famous for its peach parfaits but they are only sold in the summer. Just buying the peaches and eating them is a great option, too.
-Coastal trips are always great in the summer, even just to see various ocean views. Japan has lots of scenic areas all over.
-Snorkeling (mainly in Okinawa)
-Sea turtles hatch. Tokushima is famous for its sea turtle beaches
-Summer Flowers, cherry blossoms aren't the only flowers worth seeing. The summer has its own flowers. Hokkaido's famous Lavender farms bloom in the summer. Nationwide hydrangeas, irises, lotuses, sunflowers, etc all bloom in the summer and there are famous places where you can enjoy them and take nice pictures.
-Moss also becomes attractive in the summer. Some temples are known for their moss.
-Wind chimes, it may sound odd, but some scenic temples, shrines, and historic districts put out wind chimes. Some make wind chime tunnels or have other clever ways to make them a special attraction for visitors and travelers.
-Caves, although they don't change in any seasons, the coolness of caves is attractive in the summer.
-Cicadas make music for you wherever you go.
by Rabbityama rate this post as useful

Re: Experiences best in summer vs other seasons? 2020/9/22 19:24
I forgot about cormorant fishing. It's a summer thing. In Gifu, Iwakuni, and a handful of other places, they will take you out in the river at night where you can watch them fish with the birds in the traditional way.
by Rabbityama rate this post as useful

Re: Experiences best in summer vs other seasons? 2020/9/23 06:20
Summer can be fun in a lot of places, pretty awful in others. The cities in particular retain the heat and the concretey towns reflect it, so Tokyo is out, Kyoto is like a sauna - I was changing my shirt 3 times a day. Other places are very pleasant. Hakone can be quite cool and nice, I have had a nice summer trip in Nara, Karuizawa is good, Kamikochi is good. Nikko of course is known to be cooler. Enoshima is very nice on a warm day as it gets very breezy.

Oddly enough I found Matsumoto and Takayama to be too hot in summer even though they are elevated, maybe it was the year I went.

The locals tend to be pretty lively and having fun in the tourist towns in summer, which adds to the experience, also it is a good season for the food.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Experiences best in summer vs other seasons? 2020/9/23 10:04
Summer is the season for fireworks festivals in Japan, ad they're incredible! Fun, free, and often well-serviced by stands selling food and drink, they're my absolute favorite way to spend a summer night.

Summer is also great if you're interested in wearing kimono for a day. While there are kimono for every season, summer kimono, called yukata, are more comfortable (lighter fabric, fewer layers) than other kimono, and also less expensive to rent or buy.

Japan's rooftop beer gardens are a lot of fun, and generally open only during the summer (and a tiny bit of late spring/early fall). The umi no ie/beach house bars on the sand at the beaches are also only open during the summer. The fact that Japan stays relatively warm at night in the summer makes for some great evening picnics. Grab some pre-made food from a department store's food section, or even just the basic supermarket or convenience store, and find a nice park to enjoy the sunset or view of the city lights while you eat.

I'm also of the opinion that the sky in Japan is at its most beautiful in summer. Not on cloudy days, but on days when you get a mix of blue sky and clouds, the contrast is really amazing and makes for some great photos (Googling 夏の空 ["summer sky] will give you an idea).

Summer also tends to be when a lot of fun outdoor events (like the Pikachu Outbreak in Yokohama) are held.

Honestly, I think the whole "Don't go to Japan in the summer!" advice that often gets passed around is kind of an exaggeration. Is it hot and humid? Yes, but a lot of places i the world, and even Asia, are hotter and more humid - it's not like the conditions in Japan are so extreme that anyone will be miserable. Having grown up in southern California, I'm actually more uncomfortable in the winter in Japan.

Personally, if you're interested in visiting Japan in the summer, or if that's when your schedule makes it easiest to take a trip, I wouldn't worry about the weather. Bring a hat and sunscreen. Carry a hand towel with you to wipe off excess sweat (you can even buy extras at the 100-yen stores like Daiso). Maybe carry an extra T-shirt/undershirt if you're going to be out all day, and change in a restroom if your first shirt gets too sweaty (I do this often). Make use of Japan's many, many vending machines and convenience stores that are stocked with all kinds of cold and refreshing drinks, ice cream, and shaved ice varieties. Basically, don't sweat the summer weather mentally, even if you sweat it physically.

by . . . . (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Experiences best in summer vs other seasons? 2020/9/23 14:50
Agree with the above as someone from cold, wet, and dark Britain.

Summer is actually my favourite time of year in Japan by a long way. Spring and Autumn look pretty, for sure, but the general summer atmosphere can't be beat in my opinion.

Unless you're really averse to heat and humidity it's totally possible to have the time of your life, as I have been having every summer (except this one of course) for years!
by LIZ (guest) rate this post as useful

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