Hi! Patrick here with Smith’s School of English in Koenji. Japanese love their seasons. The longer I’m here, the more I realize its importance. In the winter, activities for Japanese include visiting illumination spots. In the spring, activities include flower watching (Hanami) and picnics around the beautiful Sakura trees. However, the summer activities of Japanese are not as well known. So just in case you’re wondering how Japanese spend their summer season, here are what I’ve come to learn as five of the most popular local activities during the summer.
1. Yukata Matsuri
Most Japanese will attend festivals during the summer season. The Yukata Matsuri held from July 22 to 24, where Japanese men and women get to wear their traditional light cotton casual kimonos (Yukata) during the event, is especially popular. The festival usually includes countless food vendors, souvenir stalls, game stalls, programs and often a fireworks display at the end of the festival.
2. Beach Days
Believe it or not, Japanese people love the beach, especially in the middle of the summer heat. From late July to late August, families with young children love to visit the beaches. The most popular beach destinations in Japan are Okinawa, the Izu Peninsula and the Ogasawara islands. Many of these island destinations can rival some of the best in the world, and the locals have done a good job of keeping it to themselves.
3. Fireworks Festivals
One of the best activities during the summer is fireworks watching. There are hundreds of fireworks displays all over Japan between July and September. From small matsuri fireworks to hours of continuous fireworks like the one in Fukuroi, Shizuoka. The Fukuroi Enshu fireworks festival usually coincides with the Obon holiday in mid-August every year. There’s also the “National Pyrotechnician Competition,” in which hanabishi (fireworks craftsmen and artists) from all over the country compete to impress the judges and captivate the audience with their originality and technical expertise.
4. Water Parks
What could be more fun to quench the summer heat than to play in a water park. There are many water parks scattered throughout Japan and they’re only open during the hot summer months. They feature jumbo-sized pools, twisting and turning slides, elegant fountains and spectacular manmade waterfalls and beaches, providing a fun day out for adults and kids alike. However, do note that tattoos, even fake ones, are prohibited at all water parks.
Camping has only recently became really popular among Japanese, and especially young families. Yet, despite it being a recent trend there are already campgrounds nestled throughout the entire country. There are even campsites where you can just park your car and set up your tent near your car or attached to your van. From what I gather from camping enthusiasts, if you’re planning to go camping during the summer school vacation (around late July to Late August) you better start making reservations.
Japan may be hot during the summer months, but it’s fast becoming a hot-spot for locals and tourists alike. The above are just some of the many activities being embraced by the locals. So instead of visiting temples, shopping and going to theme parks this summer, why not try these activities where you can mingle with the locals and get a real taste of all that Japan and the Japanese have to offer.