7 Summer Activities in Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido You Don’t Wanna Miss!

7 Summer Activities in Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido You Don’t Wanna Miss!

Don’t let the heat get to you, there’s lots more to see in Japan during the summer!

Most people covet Japan’s magical wintertime or lovely cherry blossoms in spring, leaving its summers overlooked more often than not.

However there’s so much more to discover in Japan when the sun’s fully out! It’s safe to say that the Japanese make the most out of their balmy days; activities you can partake in range from admiring the colourful summer blooms to hiking Mount Fuji. The best part? You certainly won’t be able to get experiences like these during the other seasons!

You’ll also get to enjoy a new take on popular destinations in Japan like Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido, as these places are where all the summer action is. So get out your mini portable fans, and get ready to experience a trip to Japan like no other this summer!

Start planning your summer adventure in Japan this June to August. You might think that you’re cutting it too close to your travel dates to secure the best deals, but Scoot has you covered!

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With so many things to see and do, you might need a little help discerning the best ones to fit into your itinerary. We’ve helped by rounding up this list of quintessential summer activities in Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido that you wouldn’t want to miss!

1. View fields of vivid flowers that bloom only in summer

If your knowledge of flowers in Japan only extends as far as sakura, you’d be glad to know that there are other spectacular flower varieties that you should catch in full bloom!

With clear cloudless skies above and the shimmering sun reflecting off the Sea of Japan, summer is the perfect season to enjoy an adventurous road trip around Hokkaido! An essential stop you must make is at the flower fields where you can take in the colours that appear only during summer.

Farm Tomita, Hokkaido

farm tomita lavender field

Image credit: JNTO

There’s nothing quite as eye-catching as a seemingly endless stretch of purple lavender fields, and the best place to witness this is none other than Farm Tomita! While there are a number of specialty shops here selling lavender produce that you should check out, the main highlight is the flower fields that comprise various types of lavenders as well as other flowers. Since the best times to view most of these flowers fall in the summer months, it’s an experience that’s can’t be replicated elsewhen!

Should you be visiting in mid-July, you should also definitely stop by Lavender East – one of the largest lavender fields in Japan which is about 4 kilometres east of Farm Tomita. Take this chance to get on the Lavender Bus which will take you in between the rows of lavender, as you sit back and enjoy a view of the lovely mountain landscape overlooking the fields.

Address: Kisen Kita 15-go, Nakafurano, Hokkaido 071-0704, Japan

Operating hours: 8.30am – 5pm daily

Website: farm-tomita.co.jp/en

Hokuryu Sunflower Field, Hokkaido

horyuku sunflower field

Image credit: JNTO

Nothing screams summertime quite like bright yellow sunflowers, which explains why the Hokuryu Sunflower Field is one of Hokkaido’s biggest attractions each summer. Located in the little town of Hokuryu are about 1.5 million sunflowers over a vast 23.1 hectares of land. An annual sunflower festival is held here each year from mid-July to mid-August, and the best time to enjoy the festivities is in early August – when the sunflowers are in bloom and make for the best viewing experience!

Before you leave, do have some sunflower-flavoured ice cream, and take some sunflower seeds to snack on during your drive!

Address: 143 Itaya, Hokuryu, Uryu District, Hokkaido 078-2511, Japan

Operating hours: 24 hours daily

Website: hokuryu-kankou.com

2. Bask in the fireworks and other summer festivities

If you’re never really gotten the spectacularity of fireworks, that’s about to change once you get a glimpse of how they do it in Japan. The Japanese take their fireworks very seriously, lighting up the sky during hanabi (fireworks) festivals practically every weekend in the summer months.

These festivals filled with smiles and food are often attended in the company of loved ones, giving it a warm overall atmosphere – and not just due to the weather. Grab a friend, find a yukata (Japanese garment usually worn in the summer) to don, and spend the evening gobbling up yummy festival food and looking up in awe at the colourful sky when the show begins.

Sumida River Fireworks Festival, Tokyo

sumida river fireworks festival

Image credit: JNTO

There are plenty of summer festivals to catch all over Japan, but the Sumida River Fireworks Festival is undoubtedly one of the most iconic ones to be held each year. A successor of the Ryogoku Kawabiraki Fireworks Festival that began in 1733, it sustains as one of Tokyo’s biggest and most magnificent displays that can be viewed against the backdrop of Sensoji Temple and Tokyo Sky Tree.

Be one of the thousands of spectators gathered for this splendid event on the last Saturday of July.

Address: 1-2-5 Mukojima, Sumida-ku, Tokyo-to (nearest station: Asakusa Station)

Website: sumidagawa-hanabi.com

Tenjin Matsuri, Osaka

tenjin matsuri parade

Image credit: Tomi Mäkitalo

Apart from a dazzling fireworks display in the evening, witness all the liveliness that’s on parade at Tenjin Matsuri, a 1,000-year-old festival where rituals, dance and music come to life. Dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, the Japanese deity of scholarship and learning, this exciting, colourful festival falls on the 24th and 25th of July each year.

The festivities extend to the waters as you get to watch traditional noh and bunraku plays performed on floating stages. Don’t miss out on this incredible cultural experience that you can only witness during the summer!

Address: 2-1-8 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka-fu (nearest station: Tenmangu station or Sakuranomiya station)

Website: tenjinmatsuri.com/tenjinmatsuri_navi/honmiya_shinshin

3. Grab a refreshing drink at a Japanese beer garden

Those who are always up for a beer or two can look forward to visiting Japanese beer gardens! Drinking at a beer garden is considered a summer tradition, because what better way to stave off the summer heat than to grab a cold one?

Beer gardens aren’t necessarily restricted to being situated only in gardens, as they are commonly found on building rooftops in urban areas. It’s usually an all-you-can-drink-and-eat affair, so prepare your tummy before you go!

Mount Takao, Tokyo

pints of beer

A unique beer garden site is on top of Mount Takao, which is one of the most popular mountains for hiking in Japan and a 55-minute train ride from central Tokyo. After a good hike (or chairlift ride) up, reward yourself with a free-flow feast of food and drinks.
Here you won’t only be refreshed by the beer, you’ll also feel revitalised by the stunning views of the Tokyo skyline. As the garden is only open from mid-June to mid-October, you’ll find yet another reason to love Japan’s summer.w

Address: 2205 Takaomachi, Hachioji, Tokyo 193-0844, Japan

Operating hours: 1pm – 9pm daily

Website: www.mount-takao.com/beermount

Sapporo Beer Garden, Hokkaido

grill with beer

Image credit: MIKI Yoshihito

While the Sapporo beer brand is now world-famous, this is a great chance to visit the place where it all began for Japanese beer. Take a look around the Sapporo Beer Museum to trace the beginnings of the iconic beer brand, before heading next door to the Sapporo Beer Garden.

At this beer garden, you can enjoy the “Genghis Khan”, a Mongolian barbecue meal along with your drink. Dine indoors to be close to the food selection, or outdoors on the terrace to relish the full summer experience. Either way, you’ll perk up at the taste of Japan’s signature beers, such as Sapporo Draft Beer Black Label or Ebisu Premium Black.

Address: 9 Chome-2-10Kita 7 Johigashi, Sapporo, Hokkaido 065-0007, Japan

Operating hours: 11.30am – 10pm daily


4. Cool off on a sightseeing cruise

Staying cool and hydrated on your vacation is important, especially in the summer! Besides drinking lots of water, surrounding yourself with it isn’t a bad idea either.

Instead of walking from one attraction to another, conserve some of that energy by taking a sightseeing cruise or boat ride! Not only will you get to see more places within a shorter period of time, you’ll also get the chance to enjoy a different view of Japan.

Tombori River Cruise, Osaka

scenes at dotonbori ebisu bridge with a cruise passing by below

Image credit: Type specimen

While others flock to the Dotonbori Bridge to get a picture in front of the Glico Man sign, you’ll have a more settling time admiring it from the comfort of your boat. In fact, sailing along the peaceful Dotonbori River on the Tombori River Cruise will be a welcome contrast to the masses gathered all over the hectic Dotonbori area.

Relax and let yourself be entertained by your tour guide as he introduces the landmarks of Downtown Osaka. This 20-minute cruise can be taken from the embarking point located in front of Don Quijote Dotonbori, where the ticketing area is located.

Address: 542-0084 Soemoncho, Chuo-ku, Osaka

Operating hours: 1pm – 9pm on weekdays; 11am – 9pm on weekends, holidays and peak days

Website: www.ipponmatsu.co.jp/cruise/tombori.html

Tokyo Mizube Line

cruise in front of a city skyline in Tokyo

Travelling on a cruise can also be a very efficient way to get around a city like Tokyo. The Tokyo Mizube Line, which comprises the Asakusa Odaiba Cruise, the Odaiba Kasai Tour, as well as the Asakusa Kasai Cruise.

The cruises take you to a sizeable number of sights, including the Tokyo Gate Bridge, which spans Tokyo Bay. You’ll be staying cool and likely covering more ground than you would using other modes of transport, as you’d easily be able to get on and off at the different stops!

Address: Various piers to embark from (refer to website)

Operating hours: 9am – 5pm on Tuesday to Sunday; closed on Monday

Website: tokyo-park.or.jp/waterbus/english

5. Slurp up flowing noodles before they’re gone

There’s no argument that the best kinds of summer activities are those that incorporate food. In Japan, nagashi somen – which roughly translates to “flowing noodles” – is one such activity. The idea is that somen are let loose in flowing water along a long open-faced bamboo tube, and that you’ll only get to eat by “catching” the noodles with your chopsticks. How fun!

Funa Yado, Tokyo

bamboo tube at Funa Yado

Image credit: Tranpan23

This exciting gastronomic experience is a fun activity for people of all ages, and you can enjoy it right in Tokyo, at a shop called Funa Yado. The catch is that it’s open only on weekends and public holidays from 24 June until the end of September, so it’s a summer-exclusive activity indeed! Be sure to call in advance to make a reservation before you visit.

Address: 2-4-2 Kikunodai, Chobu, Tokyo

Operating hours: 11am – 4.30pm on weekends and public holidays

Contact: +81 042-483-3053

Website: maingreen.jp/funayado

6. Feast on summer specialties

It’s not a holiday unless you’re stuffing your face, especially when the delicacies that you’re having are not easily available anywhere or anytime else.

All the seasonal specialties start to make their appearance in the markets and onto our tables as summer rolls around. There truly is no time more exciting than this, especially for seafood enthusiasts.

Ayu (Sweetfish)

ayu grilled over a charcoal flame

Image credit: Tomomarusan

Often regarded as the first (edible) sign of summer, ayu or sweetfish is everywhere in the streets right as summer begins. It’s most popularly enjoyed grilled with some salt added, but otherwise you’re meant to eat it whole. There’s no missing this delicacy; head to any place selling street food near you and gulp it down at one go!

Hakodate Morning Market, Hokkaido

Hokkaido is commonly known to have the best seafood in Japan, due to its freshness and flavour. You won’t regret rising early to take a trip to the famous Hakodate Morning Market to try some of the freshest seafood you’ll have in your lifetime.

Of course, you’ll have to savour the seafood that are most popular during the summer, including squid, sea urchins, as well as the horsehair crab. In fact, some of these seafood are only available during the summer months, so you’ll be in luck!

Address: 9-1 5 Wakamatsucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0063, Japan

Operating hours: 6am – 2pm; only open on Wednesdays in June

Website: hakodate-asaichi.com

7. Enjoy Japan’s most scenic spots best seen in summer

Just when you thought there’s no way Japan’s summers could not get any more exceptional, we’re here to tell you that some of the top sightseeing spots in the country are only or best visited during summertime.

After all, the main hiking season in Japan is in July and August, as more nature trails open during the summer months. So don’t forget to pack in your hiking shoes and a whole lot of enthusiasm to overcome the heat in order to enjoy unmatched scenic views out in the great outdoors.

Mount Fuji

landscape view of mount fuji

Image credit: JNTO

The best example of a scenic spot that should be experienced in summer has to be Mount Fuji. A good 300,000 people attempt to climb the majestic mountain once its trails and facilities open, from early July to mid-September. The most popular trail among climbers is the Yoshida Trail, which is also the most accessible from central Tokyo.

If you’re not up for breaking out a little sweat, fret not as there are many ways to enjoy the mountain view, including admiring it from the Fuji Five Lakes, found at the northern base of the mountain. Summer days mean a less obstructed view to see the marvel of nature that it is.

Address: Mount Fuji, Chūbu region, Honshu, Japan

Website: fujisan-climb.jp/en

Kamikochi, Nagano


Image credit: JNTO

In the Nagano Prefecture, Kamikochi is just a bus ride away from Tokyo and Osaka. Open only from mid-April to mid-November, the peak season for this highland valley is in the summer when all activities can be enjoyed in full.

Besides trekking, there are many ponds and rivers around the area to marvel at. It’s renowned for its lush forests and surrounding mountainous landscape, which makes it aptly dubbed as the jewel of the Japanese Alps. One thing’s for sure: you’ll return from this paradise on earth recharged and ready for more adventures.

Address: Kamikochi, Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, Japan

Website: kamikochi.org

There you have it, seven of the best summer activities to fill your Japan itinerary with. Since all these activities all easily accessible from popular destinations like Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido, you truly have no excuse for not attempting all of them on your next summer vacay.

So what are you waiting for? Summer fun’s just a flight away, and it doesn’t even have to be expensive when you travel this June to August with Scoot.

Fly direct to Osaka (7x weekly), or one-stop to Tokyo (7x weekly) or Sapporo (4x weekly) from just S$229. Escape the ordinary and Scoot on to all the activities lined up for you this summer!

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About Author

Sharifah Nur Afiqah
Sharifah Nur Afiqah

Always going from one extreme to the next, Sharifah’s constantly agonising over what to order off the menu, yet she tends to jump head-first into the major things, on the basis of intuition. Catch her at her loudest when she’s on a roller-coaster, cable car, or any other thrill-inducing contraption.