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Where to go in August 2022/2/6 23:38
Hi everyone! How are you doing? I hope you're healthy and happy! It's been a while since I posted here, but I've been a silent lurker ;)

So, despite the borders being closed, I've been having fun searching and reading about Japan and possible itineraries. Traveling this year is not an option since I doubt borders will open this year (perhaps, 2023? 2024?). Therefore, I've been trying to come with an itinerary not only for fun but to be ready when they open.

And I came here because I wanted to read your suggestions. Why August? Because I started my career as a History Professor (I'm an Archaeologist btw), so in my country August is the summer vacation.

It seems August is not that really popular among tourists because of school summer vacations (attractions will be packed with families and kids) and because of hot and humid weather. But it seems it's my only option now (along with Christmas and Eastern vacations, but not traveling to Japan on those now - I want to visit other countries as well).

I went to Japan 2018 during the Fall season in order to see the Koyo. I did a great variety of things, and visited many different places, from cities to villages, from infrastrutures to nature, from hotels to ryokan, from inland to island, from traditional cuisine to international, from shinkansen to hiking. You can say that I got a taste of both modern and traditional Japan. However, by the end of my trip I came to realize that I prefer nature, villages, traditional alleys and hiking. I also enjoy visiting temples (I stayed in a temple in Koyasan before), castles and other archaeological sites.

I did a research for August and got interested in the following places/areas (btw, I'm a solo female traveler, and exploring Japan on my own is very healing, BUT, I don't rent cars since I don't feel confident riding on the left side of the road, never tried and I don't plan to do it alone). Also I'm a fan of the Mitsui Garden Hotels chain.

Hokkaido - Sapporo, Noboribetsu, Asahidake, Furano and Biei (for the flower season), Sunflower Village (basically going around these places and riding a bicicle in Furano or Biei). Maybe even getting a JR regional pass for Hokkaido.

Or

Kyushu - with JR North Kyushu pass, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Mt. Aso, Yutoku Inari Shrine and Yoshinogari Park, Beppu, Nanzoin Shrine (not interested in Fukuoka). Thought about Takachiho because it looks beautiful and peaceful, but it seems it's better to rent a car, and that's out of the question :(

Or

Kansai - Nara (I want to return there again), Horyuji (missed last time I went to Japan), Iga-Ueno, Ise-Kumano, probaby Hikone (explore area around Hikone, probably Omihachiman and Azuchi, there's a famous museum nearby can't remember the name now).

There are other spots I want to visit in Japan, but I don't want to do it during summer, one of the places in my list is the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, but I want to do in spring in order to go through the snow corridor (I don't even know when I'll have vacations for that, but oh well, who knows the future).

What do you guys think? Which one is the best? Or are other places worth visiting during August? :)
by Sophia (guest)  

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/7 06:13
I've been over in August and it actually wasnt as hot as I was expecting, but that was an odd year and I think a typhoon was keeping a bit of drizzle around. But I've been over in September and the heat was ferocious. So between the risk of a typhoon spoiling your holiday and the alternative of it being tremendously hot, I think if I was going again in August I would stick to north or or the western coast where it is likely to be a bit cooler and less typhoon risk.

As I dont know much about northern Japan, places I would look at would be Karuizawa, Kamikochi, Takayama, Kanazawa. But northern Honshu or Hokkaido would be a safer bet all round, IMO.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/7 08:02
I think it greatly depends on your tolerance level to humid heat.
If it is a problem, I would stick with Hokkaido. Which should have a nice warm but not humid hot weather in August.
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/7 08:27
Thank you. So Hokkaido might be a good choice for a summer trip, not too hot, not too humid. Coming from a hot area, I don't mind the heat, though humidity can be a pain.

Is Kyushu humid in summer like central Japan?
by Sophia (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/7 08:33
They were going to open new flights from Helsinki to Sapporo (the only direct flight from Europe to Hokkaido), but that was right before the pandemic began. Since the borders have been closed for a while, maybe that plan was suspended.

It would be a really good deal, because there is no direct flights from my country to Japan. I have to go via Amsterdam or Frankfurt, then land in Kansai International Airport or Narita, then switch to Itami or Haneda, and finally land in New Chitose. Quite a pain, huh. That flight from Helsinki to Sapporo was a blessing, a pity that Covid-19 ruined everything.
by Sophia (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/7 11:34
I've spent at least a few days in japan for every single month of the year despite having never lived in Japan.

August and September can be quite humid, but if you're from an area where heat and humidity is normal i.e. like many places East of the Mississippi in the US, it's bearable. It is definitely a time when I splurge to make sure to stay in a nice chain (like the Mitsuis) because I find I need AC after a day of sightseeing! I haven't spent as much time in Hokkaido, but i love Tohoku. I think both areas of Japan have a lot to offer and I can say with 100% assuredly that places like Shin-Namari and Hanamaki onsen proper cooled down a lot more at night than either Takayama or Kanazawa, which both just stayed hot at night. It poured when I was in Kamikochi so I was freezing the entire time.

I heard from a friend who visited Kyushu in the Summer (she's from the UK) and thought it was quite bad in Fukuoka. I've been to Kansai enough times in June/early July that I can easily say it is quite humid in the Summer and not for everyone. I was quite happy to do some simple walks but after 30-40 minutes my kid was not feeling it and just wanted some AC. BTW, I think you are thinking of the Miho Museum in Koka. :D

In terms of renting a car, I rented one for my first time in Summer 2019. I wasn't alone, but my traveling companion was my 8 year old daughter, so of limited help. I found driving on the opposite side of the road MUCH easier in Japan than when I visited the UK later in the same Summer. Japan has very low speed limits and for driving, I found you just always think of it as, the driver needs to be where the centerline/median would be. Since you sit on the opposite side of the car as well, it just makes it much simpler. I was honestly surprised at how easy it was. My only challenging parts were places with pedestrians (i.e. when returning the car) and gas stations because I was just not sure how to open the gas cap and had a few problems paying. Full service would have solved both of those for me. When I do go back to Japan, I definitely plan to rent a car depending on where I go. I'd really like to go back to Osorezan.

I didn't go in the Summer, but really liked Onuma Park. I thought walking along the lake was very pretty.

In terms of school breaks, it's important to realize that where Japanese tourists want to go is not necessarily where foreign tourists want to go.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/7 13:08
When visiting Japan - there is never a bad time to visit if you are willing to travel to different parts of the country.

For August - Tohoku and Hokkaido are my favourites. Tohoku also has it's famous festivals in August which is a perfect time to visit.

Before I make any suggestions - how long are you looking at visiting for and how much do you like moving around?

Also - are you interested in the Yayoi people - with some interesting sites being littered around the country.

When most people think about Japan - they think about samurai, temples and shrines but the Yayoi and Ainu people have a fascinating culture which can be found if you just dig into the surface. From memory - they are meant to be descendants of people from Taiwan and are more "Polynesian" genetically.

History wise - Hokkaido has beautiful natural scenery but it also is not very historical (apart from the Ainu) compared to the rest of the country. Before I start blabbering about history - is that of something to interest to you outside of your job?
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/7 15:27
Regarding the flights to Hokkaido, there are definitely flights from Narita and KIX to different places in Hokkaido, including New Chitose. So no need to transfer to Itami or Haneda.
Obviously the Helsinki option would still be attractive to you.
Potentially an other option could be your country (where?) to Korea, Korea - Hokkaido.
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/8 00:59
Thank you everyone! Love your comments.

@rkold
I think maybe I should skip Kansai region for August. I'm used to hot weather (30C / 86F is nothing especial, I even survived my trip in Athens, Greece with almost 40C / 104F during June 2019). However, never really experienced hot and humidity at the same time, since in southern Europe the weather is mostly dry during summer. But I truly believe that it can be awful, because I've experienced both cold/humid and cold/dry in winter, and with humidity is much worse.

Yes, the Miho Museum! :D Thank you! Saw a report here, and became interested!

@mfedley
I still don't know how long it will be, given that I can't even buy plane tickets because of borders. And there's quarantine too. But maybe 2/3 weeks? I can only go in August, so maybe departure would be around 2nd/3rd of August and return by 20-25th (almost at the end of the month). But it depends on a lot of things.

During my last trip to Japan, I went like crazy, doing a very fast pace traveling. I was younger back then, and was clueless. So I plan to take things easier next time, go slow, enjoy some stroll in the alleys, or stop by some nice cafe, enjoy the views, ride bicicle, and so on. I want to feel like I'm living there, instead of just visiting places.

Oh yes, Sapporo has great museums about Ainu people. I searched about it. There's one close to Noboribetsu as well.

And I like History, but I prefer Art History and Archaeology. I've been visiting specific places of interest, such as Stonehenge, Atapuerca, Acropolis, Delphi, all monuments in Rome, Pompeii, Bavarian Castles, Versailles Palace, Volubilis, Viking ships in Oslo, among others. And have others on my list, such as Mesa Verde in the US and Egypt for the obvious reasons. But I want my trip to Japan to be at a slower pace, no rush.

@LikeBike
Oh I didn't know there are flights from KIX/Narita to New Chitose. That makes things a little better. Oh, I'm from Portugal btw. I don't think we have direct flights to Asia (?) from Lisbon? I might be wrong though. The only country I visited in Asia was Japan so far. When I went to KIX, I went through Amsterdam and returned via Frankfurt. (KLM departure and arrival with Lufthansa). KLM is a good deal, 'cause I can go from the south of Portugal immediately to Amsterdam (where I live-30 min from the airport), instead of riding a 4 hour bus to Lisbon and then catch the flight.
by Sophia (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/8 03:16
There is a lot of things in your post where you are tugging this way and that. If you have to travel in August, then so be it. As to where to go and what to see and do, that is really up to you and depends a lot on how archaeologically focused you want to make your trip. As mentioned above, if you want to study old sights of Japan, then Kyushu would have a wealth of good sights. Hokkaido has far less - it has some of course, though for the Ainu there is not that much. As for the miserable, sticky weather, then the northern Tohoku area and Hokkaido would be magnificent. When I went to Aomori in mid-July, I actually found some evenings to be almost chilly. If you'd like to see places and remains from Japan's Jomon Era, Aomori and southern Hokkaido actually have quite a good number of places.
https://jomon-japan.jp/en/
Kyushu, aside from the weather, would also be a good choice. Yes, it is as bad as Kansai for sticky, muggy heat in summertime, if not worse. And as for Fukuoka, I have spent a lot of time there, and I've found that those who say there is nothing interesting there are the ones who don't know the place. Loads of places for early Japanese history, such as Korokan (a kind of embassy for Asian visitors), lost for centuries but only rediscovered a few decades ago. Or if interested in the Mongol Invasions, it is the ideal place to be. Plus Dazaifu has the Kyushu National Museum, one of the top 3 in Japan, as well as lots from when it was a sort of regional capital over a thousand years ago. And for August, the city of Kurume throws one of the biggest fireworks displays in the world.
If your interests include natural history, then there are some gems too. Akiyoshido in the middle of Yamaguchi is the best in the country, and certainly worth a detour on the way down or up.
https://youtu.be/DqIKC9S8TFQ
And in Kumamoto, the Kyusendo Cave is the biggest in Kyushu and no slouch either.

One other thing you didn't mention are the hot springs of Japan. August is normally not the season people think of it of course, but you'll find one of Japan's best concentrations of them in Kyushu. Tohoku has some excellent ones as well, and a cooler atmosphere which may make them more enjoyable. Both areas are also very good for hiking and nature. BTW you don't have to drive to go Takachiho, but it certainly makes it more convenient. If you do an overnight there, then you still have some breathing room and more flexibility. If you are on more of a tight schedule, then it gets a lot less enjoyable and more hectic. But the island has a lot and there is no shortage of places to see.
https://goo.gl/Q843Bg

You can have a great trip either way.
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/8 03:18
If going in early August, check out the Nebuta Festival in Aomori. Finding a room in Aomori during that period is next to impossible, but you can stay in Hakodate, Hokkaido and ride Shinkansen to Shin Aomori. I want to go this summer, but rooms are all sold out in Aomori, so I am thinking to do exactly what I suggested. Yes, I am optimistic about traveling this summer.
https://www.nebuta.jp/foreign/english.html
by ITO (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/8 07:16
Did another research about Hokkaido and found Akanko Ainu Kotan, a village of Ainu people, close to Lake Akan (Lake Mashu is beautiful btw). However, it's far from Sapporo (saw the timeline from Hyperdia and wow, its a day traveling). In order to go there, I'll have to stay 2 night at most. But seems worth it, for the unspoiled nature and unique culture.

Have you visited this area of Hokkaido? Any tips?
by Sophia (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/8 07:53
I have been there and it is a very beautiful place - one of Japan's best. I found the marimo algae balls more intriguing. Like you said, very time consuming to get to. There are other sights for ancient settlements as I listed in the link above, though more in southern Hokkaido.
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/8 08:14
@Ken
The Marimo algae species sure its intriguing and one of a kind. I read report of tourists who went there and liked it a lot. I think they even have a Marimo Exhibition and Observation Center. Truly amazing.
by Sophia (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/8 08:52
If I had Carte Blanch - I'd probably fly into Tokyo and just head North. A very rough (not based directly on your interests) start I'd probably do after thinking about what I've seen is.....

Tokyo --> Aizu Wakamatsu --> Sendai (day trips to Matsushima & Yamadera) --> Hiraizumi --> Tono --> Kakunodate --> Hirosaki (Possibly visit Shimokita Peninsula) --> Hakodate --> Onuma Koen --> Noboribetsu --> Sapporo. I also liked Dewa Sansen but it would be difficult without a car.

On Sapporo - I honestly think it's best for nature than history. Things are a long way from another and it takes time to get there. Outside of the Southern Part of Hokkaido - things are really far from one another and I'd compare it to the Alaska of Japan. The Wildflowers on Rishiri and Rebun island can be fantastic if you like that kind of stuff.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/8 09:18
@mfedley
Thank you for your suggestions! While most of my trips involve history and monuments, I like to explore quiet and peaceful places, like nature and alike, once in a while. While I rushed through my first trip to Japan and did both modern and traditional, I'd like to do a more slower trip with nature in mind next time I go there (and of course history as well / knowing about the Ainu people seems both interesting and educational).

Maybe, if I really choose Hokkaido for my future August trip, nature will be my first priority except for Sapporo. The islands you mentioned have a diverse and rare biodiversity, but they're far away, and it would get too expensive (saw prices for renting a car in one of the islands and pretty shocked me!).
by Sophia (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/9 11:46
If interested in Rishiri and/or Rebun, then for the flowers, mid June to mid July is normally the best time. There are also some bicycle rentals and you can ride down dedicated bike lanes.
https://omakase-tour.com/blog/summer/is-this-really-japan-our-guide-to...
One cheap way to get there are some dirt cheap airfares using JAL's Explorer fare from Sapporo to Rishiri which just costs 5500 yen one way. Beats taking long trains or buses all the way to Wakkanai, and then have to take a ferry.
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/9 17:01
@Ken
Thank you for that information. Going on plane is surely better than going by train all over Wakkanai. Btw, does JAL's Explorer fly within other airports in Hokkaido? Like for example, from New Chitose to Kushiro? Saw the trains timeline and looked like a long trip.
by Sophia (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/9 18:17
Aomori during that period is next to impossible, but you can stay in Hakodate
You might want to consider Hirosaki instead of Hakodate, and enjoy the Hirosaki nebuta at the same time: https://www.japan.travel/en/spot/457/
by .. (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to go in August 2022/2/10 07:01
Yes, JAL also has a Sapporo-Kushiro route for the same fare. But so does ANA which also has more routes around the island (though not to Rishiri) and with its Experience Japan Fare, it is also 5500 yen per flight. If you want to get to eastern Hokkaido fast, then Sapporo-Nakashibetsu on ANA might be better. BTW if for some reason you wanted to skip Sapporo at the start or end, ANA also has direct flights to/from Tokyo and Asahikawa, Kushiro, Obihiro, Nakashibetsu, Hakodate, Memambetsu, and Wakkanai (though these are 11,000 yen each).
http://ana.ms/20Xtf8t


by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

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