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.
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.
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, Kongosan, Mt 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!