Japan in Early Summer – 10 Fun Things to Do During this Season

Japan in Early Summer – 10 Fun Things to Do During this Season

Don’t gloss over the early summer season in Japan because it certainly has some heart-stoppingly breathtaking sceneries that might be too hot to handle…

Ask about Japan and most vacationers will wax lyrical about how the country is resplendent in every season, yet conveniently leave out any mention of summer. They’d recount how beautiful the champagne-pink cherry blossoms delicately flowered in springtime, or how eye-catching the varied hues of autumn’s leaf-strewn pavements were. Why, even winter receives more fanfare than summer!

In short, think Japan and the average traveller would simply blink past summer. But why should that be the case? Contrary to what many might think, it isn’t all about sweltering heat or unrelenting humidity; in fact, there are lots of unique and fun things to do, especially during the May to June period – early into the start of the season!

So if you feel summer in Japan isn’t worth the visit, here are 10 things to do during the early summer pocket that proves why we think (and you should too) that its bad rep is totally undeserving.

P.S. For ease of travel or more inspiration, check out JNTO’s website for awesome flight deals, tour packages and more!

1. Hitch a ride on the Isumi Railway

Image Credit: © AFLO, powered by ZEKKEI Japan

Residing in the Chiba Prefecture, the Isumi Railway line stretches from Ohara Station to Kazusa Nakano station. Here, you can enjoy a relaxing and refreshing cruise along the picturesque countryside backdrop. Admire the majestic views of the ancient Kazusa Otaki Castle and take in the aromatic fragrance of the surrounding flora. Rapeseed flowers also blossom along the tracks in a never-ending yellow carpet! Truly a magnificent sight, this landscape is so ethereal that it’s said to resemble the Moomin Valley in the popular Finnish cartoon and that’s why you’ll see a colourful Moomin character painted on each train!

2. Go back in time to explore the life of the samurai

Image Credit: Hiyang

Learn the way of the fearsome samurai at Kakunodate’s Samurai Village in Akita. As though stuck in a time capsule, experience what life was like during the Edo era through the ancient and hallowed walls of the traditional houses there. Though most houses are free for you to enter, a small number require a minimal entrance fee. Tour through the carefully preserved antiquities, ranging from beautiful vases to colourful caricatures on paintings. But the highlights are the samurai manors where impressive armour and razor sharp sacred samurai blades are displayed. Japan is synonymous with the samurai so head on over to feel their pride, honour, bravery and spirit for yourself!

Ready to explore the way of the Samurai? Fly to Japan now from just S$222 (one-way)! Check out JNTO’s website for more amazing flight deals – perfect for kickstarting your early summer vacation in Japan!

3. Escape to a quaint Japanese Town

Image Credit: © AFLO, powered by ZEKKEI Japan

Japan’s southern Kyushu islands are known for their long-stretching beaches and scenic oceanside drives. But tucked away in the Miyazaki Prefecture lies the quiet abode of Takachiho town which looks like it came straight out of a fairytale. Steeped in local mythology, this town was thought to have set the celestial tale involving the Shinto Sun Goddess Amaterasu.

The area is punctuated with intricate shrines, but one popular activity would be to indulge in a cooling boat ride through the Takachiho Gorge. Gently float along the tranquil stream and feast your eyes on breathtaking scenery including the towering Manai Falls! Even in early summer, boat rental hours are extended for maximum enjoyment. You might even wish to paddle right under the falls for a refreshing respite!

4. Travel to a far off island

Image Credit: 日本語

Here’s your chance to one-up on your fellow Japan vacationers. While they busy themselves in the popular regions like Tokyo and Hokkaido, why not look to Japan’s periphery? There you’ll find the subtropical Yakushima island, a UNESCO world heritage site, just south of Kyushu. Immerse yourself in the vast and cooling cedar tree foliage that teems with some 1,900 species and subspecies.

Trek along the Anbo and Okabu trails to view the Jomonsugi, said to be Japan’s oldest tree, and be rewarded with panoramic vistas. For the unconditioned individuals (like me), there’s also a less strenuous Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine trail with equally satisfying views of this pristine forest. So if you’re pining for an outdoor adventure, the balmy coastal breezes and cool tropical climate, here is the perfect escape.

Are there Princess Mononoke fans out there? Yakushima was the stage for Hayao Miyazaki’s famous 1993 film, Princess Mononoke. Explore jaw-dropping sceneries like Yakushima and many more scattered across Japan’s iconic cities like Tokyo, Hokkaido and Osaka by flying with to Japan with JNTO’s partnering airlines during early summer! Choose from flights with airlines such as Singapore Airlines, JAL and Scoot from just S$222. What a steal, huh!

5. Take part in a local festival

Image Credit: © JNTO

Have you heard of the Japanese Matsuri? No that’s not an order on the sushi menu, but the term in fact refers to Japanese local festivals which abound during summer. Many Matsuri date back hundreds of years and each have their own unique customs and characteristics. Participating in one is your best bet to experience the local culture! Don a yukata through throngs of crowds to watch impressive ornamental shrines be lifted through streets filled with a bevy of carnival booths ranging from game stalls to sinful street food (ergo tasty takoyaki and friends).

While Japan has an insane number of these festivals, the Sanja Matsuri celebrated at the start of summer in the Asakusa district stands out with its staggering popularity; nearly 2 million people pack the area over the three days in May. 100 portable shrines, or mikoshi, are paraded proudly through the streets after the Daigyoretsu Parade kickstarts day 1. There’s also music to enjoy. Participating in a matsuri should be high up on your to-do list!

6. Find your zen at one of Japan’s most beautiful streams

Image Credit: Yuichi Kosio

This is, hands down, one of the more zen attractions in Japan. The roaring Oirase mountain stream winds 14km from its Lake Towada source; running through a luscious virgin forest sprawling with white cedar, Japanese beech, and maple trees, this scenic route is popular among tourists and locals alike. Make your way to Aomori and you’ll find the Oirase-gawa river.

As the gushing stream tumbles against the algae-ridden rocks, the force creates splashes that form an ethereal, almost puffy cloud-like layer. You can rent a bicycle or board a bus to explore the area fully; a highlight will be the cascading waterfalls, such as Kumoi-no-taki Falls and Tamasudare-no-taki Falls. Be captivated by the eye-catching green-blue contrast that early summer brings with its refreshing splash of leafy green tints to the trees. Take all the photos you can to trick your friends into thinking that you were in some remote Amazonian utopia!

7.Be on top of the world at a temple high in the mountains

Image Credit: © AFLO, powered by ZEKKEI Japan

Looking as if it came straight out of a movie setting, the sacred Risshakuji temple in Yamagata is a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty and rightly so! The temple is tucked away deep in the mountains, and you’ll have to climb a total of 1,015 steps up to the temple complex. Don’t be intimidated by this sheer number, for many a traveller has persevered and was duly rewarded with amazing views.

Make it to the top and you’ll see the panoramic mountain range with the tiny town way below nestled in between. Once you’re done with the view, take some time to explore the temple itself, for it contains many artifacts like a surviving flame that has been kept lit since the temple’s foundation over a century ago and other aged monuments.

8. Grab a stunning photo at the Blue Pond

Image Credit: © JNTO

If you’re travelling in and around Hokkaido, make a pit stop at the town of Biei in the Kamikawa subprefecture for a photo opportunity at the Blue Pond’s wonderful vista. True to its namesake, the pond fills with a pool of deep cyan blue water. Miraculously, the Blue Pond exists by pure chance, created when a dam constructed against a nearby volcanic eruption caused water from Shirahige Falls to dissolve with natural minerals to give it its blue tint. Early summer is the best time to visit due to the absence of wind and rain. A clear, bright day results in prime conditions for the pond to gleam at its most radiant!

9. Be one with nature at Japan’s most beautiful lake

Image Credit: © AFLO, powered by ZEKKEI Japan

Akan National Park is a paradise for all nature lovers, and is home to Lake Mashu – a lake once touted to be the clearest lake in the world! Due to the absence of any river outlets, the lake’s impurity levels are super low and this gives it a crystal-clear reflective surface. The downside is that it’s frequently blanketed by a thick fog that obscures your view. But if you manage to catch the clear view, they’re simply to die for.

Stand atop the two main observation decks for unobstructed views of the lake and the nearby Mount Mashudake. There’s also a hiking trail to Mashudake’s summit. They’ve even got a large shopping area by Deck 1 peddling Hokkaido treats where you can even buy some canned fog for a good laugh.

Now that we’re coming to the end of our list, we’re quite sure you don’t need much more convincing that visiting Japan in early summer is TOTALLY WORTH IT. We do admit, however, travelling on your own from Hokkaido all the way up north right down to southern Kyushu can be both confusing and tiring.

Why not cut the hassle of planning and check out JNTO’s websites for lots of travel packages and flight deals? Plan the best hotels to stay at with Expedia or check out the cheapest flights with ZUJI and CheapTickets.sg to fly to Tohoku, Kyushu, Tokyo and more this May to June!

Check out JNTO’s website to see what else is in store!

10.  Indulge in unique seasonal menus

Image Credit: City Foodsters

Ah, food glorious food. Admit it, who doesn’t loveeee Japanese food! The best part? You can indulge in a completely unique cuisine during summertime as compared to the rest of the seasons due to an array of cold dishes coming out from their year-long slumber. With its colour wheel array of shades, hiyashi chuka is a noodle salad sprinkled with many colourful toppings. Cold somen is also a thin white noodles best slurped up in sauce. Shabu shabu also has its summer edition with the cold pork rei shabu. For dessert, there’s nothing better than a serving of kakigori shaved ice—Japan’s dose of your korean bingsu or ice kacang.   

So if you’ve tried planning for trips during spring or autumn this year but were left disappointed by fully booked inns and sold-out tour tickets, why not give summer a go instead! It certainly has its own unique flavour and fair share of amazing attractions early on in the season to see Japan from a whole new angle. So why visit Japan then? Well, our question to you is – why not? To make things easier, why not check out JNTO’s awesome packages and deals:

Check out JNTO’s website for everything (and more!) that you’ll need to explore Japan during the early summer season – with partners like Expedia, ZUJI and Cheaptickets.sg all offering fantastic bargains from May to June, you’ll be in for a treat! JNTO has also partnered with several leading airlines to bring you from Singapore to Japan in the comfort that you deserve. Fly (with return tickets) in the comfort of top-notch airliners like SIA, Japan Airlines from just S$580! If you’re looking to travel within Japan itself, score one-way domestic flights from just S$90 with ANA.

Here’s an idea: save more on travel and accommodation, and you’ll get to spend more on food, shopping and all things fun!

Plus, why do all that research when it can all be done for you? JNTO’s website will bring all the information you need right to your doorstep. What are you waiting for? Bring your summer vibes to Japan now!

Don’t forget to check the above ten things off your list during your trip. Japan summer holiday, here we come!

Brought to you by Japan National Tourism Organisation.

About Author

Galen Ng
Galen Ng

Besides being a complete sports fanatic and a massive lover of punk rock music, Galen is an adrenaline junkie who yearns to explore the craziest of adventures. His life goals include exploring and experiencing the most unique and lesser-known cultures of the world as well as playing a game of football with locals in every continent.