Summer in Japan: Ultimate Seasonal Guide

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Summertime in Japan is a great time to hit the beach or cool off in the mountains. We’re sharing the best places to visit and things to do during summer in Japan, as well as lots of insider tips for planning your trip!

Summer in Japan

We’ve traveled to Japan on 3 separate occasions in February, August, and November. And I’m gonna be totally up front about this – summer was not our favorite. 

But even though we personally don’t think summer is the best time to visit Japan, this season certainly has its appeal, and it could be perfect for the right person.

Summer in Japan means festivals, lush greenery, open mountain trails, and white-sand beaches with inviting turquoise waters.

That said, there are some important things you need to know in order to prepare for a summer trip to Japan. Keep reading so you know what to expect in terms of temperatures, weather, and the dreaded typhoon season (spoiler alert: it’s probably not as bad as you think!).

Summer in Japan Guide

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When is summer in Japan?

Summer in Japan

Summer in Japan spans from June to August

August is the busiest travel month overall because school is out and many Japanese people travel over the Obon holiday (August 13-15). But the absolute busiest time in Japan is during Golden Week in the spring, which you can read about here.

Reasons to visit Japan in summertime?

Summer in Japan

Each of Japan’s four seasons has its own unique draws, and summer is no exception. Here are some of the top reasons to visit Japan in summer:

  • Summer is festival season in Japan, with cultural celebrations taking place all across the country.
  • This is the prime season for hiking in the mountains, where temperatures remain comfortable in the summer due to the higher altitude. Some popular hiking trails, like Mount Fuji, are only open in the summer months.
  • Japan has a surprising number of pristine beaches that beckon on hot summer days.
  • Hot days are also perfect for cooling down with seasonal treats like cold soba, kakigōri (Japanese shaved ice), or unique ice cream flavors, such as matcha or black sesame.

Summer weather in Japan

Summer rain in Japan

Summer in Japan is known for being hot, humid, sticky, and rainy. We’ve been to Japan in August, and while it wouldn’t be our first choice, we didn’t think it was as bad as everyone makes it out to be.

The beginning of June is quite nice, comparable to the weather in May. However, tsuyu (rainy season) starts around mid-June and lasts for about a month. It doesn’t pour all day, but there is a gloomy June feeling that hangs around. Both temperatures and humidity increase as the month progresses.

July starts out rainy because of tsuyu, but this only lasts until mid-month. Temperatures and humidity continue to rise as this is typically the second hottest month of the year.

August is the hottest month of the year in Japan. Over the last few years, I’ve realized I don’t handle extreme heat very well. I get tired and crabby much more quickly in the heat. Needless to say, I was very nervous about traveling to Japan during August…

Summer in Japan
While tank tops aren’t commonly worn by Japanese people, it was so hot there were a few days we just *had* to – especially when hiking!

So, what was it like?

Well, it did get pretty hot – like 98°F hot (37°C). And it did rain on us a few times, but typically it would only last for 20-30 minutes and the rain would stop.

Some days were worse than others. After a rain, for example, it was actually pretty comfortable. And all our accommodations (even in tiny villages) had strong AC, so we never had an issue with being comfortable at night.

Knowing what to expect is half the battle, and this way you can prepare yourself for it.

Rainy season in Japan: Early Summer

Japan rain

The majority of the country experiences a rainy season from June through mid-July.

The good news is that during the rainy season, there’s a roughly 45% chance of precipitation each day (data from Tokyo), meaning you’ll have some dry days too! Some of those rainy days will be heavy, while others will be sunny before or after the rain.

You’ll find that life in Japan goes on as usual despite the rain, as locals are used to it. Do as the Japanese do and buy (or pack) an umbrella to stay dry!

Typhoon season in Japan: Late Summer

Japan rain

Late May through October is typhoon season in Japan, with the majority of typhoons occurring in August and September. Data from the last 30 years show that an average of 11 typhoons approach the coast per year.

What is a typhoon?

A typhoon is a tropical cyclone. They are formed in the same way a hurricane forms, and the only real difference is the location at which they occur.

What is a typhoon like in Japan?

We visited Japan during the month of August, which as you now know is the peak of typhoon season. And one typhoon made landfall during our visit.

While our typhoon experience in Japan wasn’t super dramatic (we had one night of pounding rain and a food tour canceled on us because restaurants were closing up shop), there have been some catastrophic typhoons in Japan’s history. Therefore, Japanese people take typhoons very seriously.

You should expect heavy rainfall and high winds, canceled and/or delayed trains, and possibly canceled tours. In some cases, it may only interrupt a day or two, and in others it might have longer-lasting effects.

Things to do during summer in Japan

Summer in Japan

Whether you’re fully embracing the heat, heading to cooler regions, or looking for a quick AC break, there are plenty of things to do in Japan during the summer.

1. Explore teamLab’s digital art museums

Things to Do in Tokyo | Two Wandering Soles

Lose yourself in an (indoor + air-conditioned!) immersive art experience where you’re encouraged to kick off your shoes and connect with the installations, blurring the boundaries between art and reality. 

The Tokyo-based art collective known as teamLab is famous for creating art installations that are unmatched. 

In 2019, we visited teamLab Borderless (now reopened in a new location!). We loved it so much that when we planned to return to Tokyo in 2023, one of the first things we did was purchase tickets to teamLab PLANETS.

This uber-Instagrammable art experience features crystal “rain”, giant balls that change colors, koi fish that are projected onto water that you walk through, and live orchids that lower down from the ceiling… anyone else reminded of Willy Wonka?! 

The experience is hard to sum up in words. So stop thinking about it and just book your tickets already! Speaking of which, this is definitely something you want to purchase in advance as they sell out every day.

Psst! We have tons more ideas for indoor activities in Tokyo you can enjoy on days that are too hot or rainy to be outside. Also, don’t miss our guide to Tokyo at night to take advantage of (slightly) cooler evening temperatures.

2. Soak up the culture at a summer festival

Tenjin Matsuri Osaka (Unsplash)
Image by Steven Marcellino via Unsplash

Despite the at-times-oppressive heat and humidity, summer in Japan is buzzing with festivals and cultural celebrations. Here are some of the top festivals (matsuri) to check out in the summer months:

  • Gion Matsuri (festival of Yasaka Shrine): The most famous festival in Japan featuring a parade of elaborate floats adorned with tapestries, lanterns, and traditional artifacts.
  • Tenjin Matsuri (Festival of the Gods): One of Japan’s top 3 festivals with traditional costumes, a land parade, and a river procession.
    • Where: Osaka
    • When: July 24-25
  • Sumida River Fireworks Festival: Ancient tradition featuring spectacular pyrotechnics.
  • Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri (Star Festival): Colorful festival celebrating the meeting of two celestial lovers.
    • Where: Hiratsuka
    • When: July

3. Traverse the Japanese Alps

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route | Two Wandering Soles

Known as the Roof of Japan, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a sightseeing mountain traverse where passengers take 8 different modes of transportation, such as a cable car and a ropeway, from one side of the Kita Japanese Alps to the other. 

Travel through lush green valleys and past a few of the highest peaks in Japan. The best part is that summer temperatures high in the mountains are much more comfortable than in the lower-altitude cities.

You can complete the entire route in one day, but if you have extra time (and money) you can stay at the highest hotel in Japan, Hotel Tateyama

4. Dive into an underwater paradise

Diving in Japan | Two Wandering Soles

Have you ever considered scuba diving in Japan?! We hadn’t either… But our friend Corinne has been living and diving in Japan for the past 2 years, and she swears it is a dive location that should be on your radar! 

Check out our ultimate guide to diving in Japan for a detailed breakdown of the best dive sites, as well as everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable diving trip.

5. Head to the beach

Ishigaki Island beaches (Visit Okinawa Japan)
Image source: Visit Okinawa Japan

When you imagine relaxing on the sand with a fruity cocktail in hand, you probably think of places like Mexico, Hawaii, Thailand, or the Philippines

But with about 34,000 km of coastline (~21,126 miles), you might want to consider Japan for your next beach vacation!

Here are some beach destinations in Japan to put on your radar:

  • Okinawa: powdery white sand beaches and premier scuba diving in some of the clearest waters in the world
  • Kamakura: sand and surf with Mount Fuji views, accessible as a day trip from Tokyo
  • Wakayama: fresh seafood and beautiful beaches you can visit on a day trip from Osaka

6. Catch a baseball game at the Tokyo Dome

Tokyo Dome baseball Japan

America’s favorite pastime takes on a life of its own in Japan, and going to a baseball game is a totally different experience than you’d have in the US.

For one, you can bring in your own food and booze. Yep, that’s right!

The drawback for any drinks you bring is you have to open them upon entering the stadium, and the security guards will pour it into a cup for you. So it’s best to just bring one or two, and then purchase another, if you’re so inclined.

Another key difference between baseball games in Japan versus North America is the atmosphere. Games in Japan (especially for popular teams like Tokyo’s Yomiuri Giants!) get wild! 

The atmosphere is more like a high stakes professional hockey game, with chants, yelling, boozing, cheerleaders, and fan sections.

Best places to visit during summer in Japan

Kamakura Buddha Daibutsu Japan
  • Minoo Park: We visited this park on a day trip from Osaka one holiday weekend in August. Though it was busy with locals, we saw very few other foreigners.
  • Hokkaido: Summer is the perfect time to explore Hokkaido’s breathtaking landscapes, including lavender fields in Furano and the Shikisai-no-Oka flower fields in Biei.
  • Nagano: Enjoy the cool mountain air of Nagano in the summer, with outdoor activities like hiking, exploring the Matsumoto Castle, and experiencing the vibrant Obon festivals.
  • Okinawa: With its tropical climate, Okinawa offers pristine beaches, clear waters, and vibrant coral reefs, making it an ideal summer destination for sunbathing and water activities.
  • Ishigaki Island: Summer is ideal for exploring Ishigaki Island’s coral reefs, pristine beaches, and vibrant marine life, making it a paradise for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.
  • Kamakura: Home to the iconic Great Buddha statue, Kamakura is also a popular spot for surfing and makes a great day trip if you’re visiting Tokyo in the summer.
  • Hitachi Seaside Park: Another popular getaway from Tokyo, this park’s summer blooms include sunflowers and zinnia, while the fluffy, rounded kochia bushes display a vivid lime green.

What to pack for Japan in summer

Summer in Japan

We have a guide where we break down exactly what to pack for summer in Japan (for both women and men!), but here are some essentials:

  • Anti-chafing cream
  • Hand-held fan (you can buy these all over and they make a nice Japanese souvenir)
  • Deodorant – finding quality deodorant in Japan is very difficult (we switched to natural deodorant several years ago and will never go back!)
  • Light, loose clothing that wicks sweat
  • Umbrella for rain and shade

Hold up! We created a whole guide to all the things you need to pack for Japan. Plus, we even have a (totally free!) packing list you can download!

This FREE PDF download includes everything you’re going to want to pack for your Japan trip, including what NOT to bring, plus tons of insider tips!

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Are you planning a trip to Japan?

We have TONS of resources on travel in Japan and destinations throughout the country. Check out our Ultimate Japan Travel Guide for all the answers to your most burning questions, or read some of our favorite articles below.

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