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What to do in Summer in Japan?

Now Im back living in England and missing Osaka, although Im not missing the suffocating humidity or mosquitoes.

June is rainy season in Japan, and in the last few years it seems that there have been more typhoons than ever before, global warming I expect! August is the most unbearable summer month, where it is so humid it can be impossible to go outdoors.

Here are some of my favorite things to see and do in summer in Japan, particularly in and around Osaka.

Go to all the festivals. There are SO many summer festivals. I love them all. Even though every one is different you still have your basic elements – food stalls, amusement stands and usually some kind of parade or singing / dancing.

Choose from – Aizen MatsuriGion Matsuri, Tenjin Matsuri, Kishiwada Danjiri or Daimonji. My favorite is Tsuruhashi Danjiri, its so lively and fun, and not so touristy, mostly just locals.

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Eat kakigori (shaved ice). Its delicious and cold, its also cheap, and its a real summer memory. My favourite is peach but its hard to find, so lemon is a close second.However the best ones are rainbow kakigori – all the flavors!!

Wear yukata. Yukata are summer kimonos, they are cheaper and easier to put on. It does take a bit of practice (YouTube helps) or you can go to a rental place where they will dress you (usually 3500yen). Its fun to wear yukata sightseeing with friends or to a summer festival.

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Go to the beach. Japanese beach culture is quite different to England, and something to see. Its also a surprise to see the usually modestly dressed public baring all. Around Osaka you can easily get to Suma beach in Kobe for wild parites and music, or Shirahama beach for a short getaway. If you can afford it go to Okinawa where you can snorkel with turtles and go kayaking.

 

Enjoy hiking. Its cooler up high. There are plenty of mountains in Japan, KongosanMt Rokko or for the more adventurous, you can climb Mt Fuji itself. If you dont fancy hiking vist Kifune in Kyoto where you can get dinner over the water.

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See a baseball game. I have to admit I became a baseball fan when living in Osaka, give it a chance, you might like it too.

 

Visit a museum. They are indoors and therefore air conditioned! The Ukiyoe museum in Osaka is fun, or visiting an aquarium can be really refreshing.

 

Celebrate Tanabata. Tanabata the star festival is celebrated at different times in Japan depending on where you are, in Tokyo and Osaka its July 7th. Shitennoji Shrine hold celebrations every year.

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Get on the water. The Whirlpools in Naruto are pretty amazing to see, summer may not be the best time to see them but its so cooling to take a boat out on the water. There are also summer boat rides down the Hozugawa in Arashiyama.

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Visit a theme park. If you are feeling brave and can withstand the heat theme parks are fun in summer, USJ and DisneySea have water fights or events to help you cool off. Alternatively they both have late night opening where you can watch the Electric Parade at USJ or fireworks at Disneyland.

Go camping. Camping in Japan is cheap and there are quite a few spots to choose from, we went camping on an abandoned island, or you could head to a manned campsite. Admittedly however it can be a little limiting without a car.

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Fireworks. Summer season is firework season. The biggest and most famous display is over the Sumida River in Tokyo. Osaka has the fireworks as part of Tenjin Matsuri and other local displays, like those in Ikeda. Alternatiely you can buy fireworks from the convenience or 100yen store and set off your own.

 

Cool of with a beer. In summer beer gardens open up, often on top of departents stores across Japan. Asahi open up their special Extra Cold bars and everyone is happy.

 

Get romantic. Nara Tokae is a light up event around the cities park that lasts for a few days, you can stroll among the lights hand in hand with your loved one.

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Watch Concorant fishing. Its quite the unique experience, fishermen (and ladies) use birds to catch fish, displays are done in the summer months throughout Japan, we watched concorant fishing in Kyoto.

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Relax in the park. If you can find a bit of shade then the park can be very enjoyable, Expo 70 Park in Osaka always has a lot of flowers to enjoy and Hama-Rinkyu in Tokyo is lovely.

Honor your ancestors. The O-bon holidays fall in summer and there are many local events that week to show thanks to our ancestors. The candle light up at Shitennoji shrine in Tennoji is quite a sight.

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Watch fireflies. Its really exciting when you spot a firefly, and quite a magical moment.

Visit the baby deer. Nara Park has a lot of free roaming deer, tourists are encouraged to buy ‘deer cookies’ and feed them. In June they all have little baby deer and you can visit them and fawn over them.

 

Well those activities should keep you busy. Have fun and take a fan!

 

 

 

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Shika no Tsunokiri & Nara

I currently work in Nara but rarely get time to venture out the office and explore. One time I did spend my lunch break in the park reading my kindle a lady tried to give me a leaflet on god which then got promptly eaten by a deer.

In November there is a 3 day ceremony in Nara called Shika no Tsunokiri, cutting of the deer antlers! The deer in Nara are sacred and to protect them and the general public their antlers are sawn off. I’m told they don’t feel a thing… But instead of doing it behind closed doors, in typical Japan style they have a festival around it!

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The offending antlers!

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Queuing to get into the stadium.

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The deer!

Basically what happens is they let some deer in, let them run around and butt heads. Then they have to lasso one and catch it! Its then tied up, pinned down and carried to a bed (mat) and pillow and held in place whilst the priest saws it’s antlers off.

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Trying to catch one!

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Tying it up.

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Sawing them off.

All the while a man beats a drum, another commentates on a microphone and the crowd ooh and ahh and clap.

It was definitely worth seeing, but don’t think I’d go again next year!

As for Nara in general it’s a lovey place to visit anytime. You can stroll the park and feed the deer.

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You can buy deer cookies all over and it’s like crack for deer, they go mad for it! Though watch out they can get a bit nippy if they think you are withholding cookies!

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Don’t forget to visit some of the many temples and shrines in Nara, such as

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I took some quick Koyo (autumn colour) photos a couple of weeks ago too, the leaves were just starting to change.

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