Tokyo welcomes summer from July to early September. During this time, locals enjoy lots of things that are limited only in summer. Check out this list and plan your trip to spend the summer in Tokyo like a local!
1. Watch fireworks festivals
Summer is the time of the fireworks festival in Japan! Fireworks festivals are held every week in somewhere. Locals dress up in yukata, buy some beer and food from stalls, secure some space and wait until it gets dark enough to start the fireworks.
Some festivals are held for competition, and the quality of fireworks is pretty surprising.
Check out this article to find the list of fireworks festivals in and around Tokyo: 10 Best Fireworks Festivals In and Around Tokyo
2. Bon-Odori festivals
Bon-Odori or Bon Dance refers to a dance held during the Obon periods when people appreciate ancestors spirits. The period depends on the region, but it’s generally from August 14th to 16th. During this time, people set up stages in parks, carry Japanese drums on the stage and get ready for the dance festival.
Information about Bon-Odori is not out so much, so the best chance is to find it randomly. However, Ebisu Bon Odori Festival is one of the most famous and most accessible to participate as it is held in front of JR Ebisu Station. It’s generally held in late July, but the date differs every year. Check out the latest information.
Another easy-to-participate Bon-Odori festival is the one held near Tokyo Station. Otemachi, Marunouchi, Yurakucho summer festival also offers the opportunity to participate in Bon-Odori, so stop by after visiting Imperial Gardens.
Otemachi, Marunoouchi, Yurakucho summer festival website: https://visit-chiyoda.tokyo.e.ie.hp.transer.com/app/event/detail/161
Bon-Odori welcomes anyone to participate, so if you find stages for Bon-Odori, don’t hesitate to join locals and have fun!
3. Other summer festivals
Not only fireworks and Bon-Odori but there are also various festivals held in summer in Tokyo. Participating in festivals is one of the best ways to learn about the culture.
So why don’t you visit one of these major summer festivals in Tokyo?
Harajuku Super Yosakoi
The festival is held at the major shopping street from Harajuku to Omotesando. Over 100 dancing teams participate in the festival to win the prize. Watching their performance won’t make you bored!
Yasukuni Shrine Mitama Matsuri
Approximately 30,000 lanterns decorate Yasukuni Shrine. Enjoy the beautiful and magical scenery with great food and drinks from stalls.
Koenji Awaodori Festival
During these two days, festivals, streets in Koenji get filled with dancers, dancers, and more dancers! Awaodori is a traditional dance in Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku Region brought to Tokyo. Watching more than 10,000 dancers is astonishing without a doubt!
Find more festivals in Tokyo: 17 Best Festivals in Tokyo From January to December
4. Have a delicious beer at beer gardens
Summer is “beer garden season” in Japan, and it is anticipated by all beer lovers every year. Who would have thought this event originated in Germany become a Japanese yearly tradition?
Every summer, many department stores and parks hold a special “beer garden” events at rooftops, etc. Each place offers different characteristics, so find your favorite one to visit in this summer.
Find beer gardens in Tokyo: 10 Beer Garden in Tokyo for Awesome Beer in Summer
5. Enjoy food stalls at En-Nichi
Street food from food stalls is one of the best foods to have during summer! Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, yakisoba, chocolate banana, shaved ice… all of them are standard menus to have at food stalls for locals. Not all festivals offer food stalls, but Tomioka Hachimangu Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri is one of the festivals that you can enjoy food stalls. But this festival is more than that. Approximately 50 teams of shrine carriers compete with each other to give their respective shrines the best shake it could handle. It is one of the most “wet” festivals where lots of water involved!
Find more about street foods at food stalls: 5 Street Food You Must Try in Japanese Summer Festivals
6. Visit beaches around Tokyo and enjoy the sun
Who would think there is no beach in Tokyo? There is actually one beach in Tokyo that you can enjoy the sun and that is located in Odaiba. If you are willing to take a day trip, there are many great beaches in Kanagawa Prefecture and Chiba Prefecture, too. Why don’t you enjoy a summer vacation at beaches around Tokyo?
Find more beaches: 10 Best Beaches in and around Tokyo For the Next Summer Vacation
7. Participate in music festivals around Tokyo
In the past few years, music festivals became one of the biggest fun during summer in Tokyo. More and more music festivals in different kinds of music are added each year. Join locals to appreciate live performances outside with a cup of beer! It may be a great chance to discover the attractions of Japanese music players.
Find music festivals in and around Tokyo: 5 Best Japanese Music Festivals You Must Participate in Summer
8. Cool your body with delicious Kakigoori (shaved ice)
Kakigoori, shaved ice, has been one of the most popular summer desserts in Japan for many many years. Recently, it has evolved in different shapes, and many Kakigoori specialized restaurants appeared to serve unbelievably delicious shaved ice.
For example, Yelo in Roppongi offers shaved ice with various unique syrups such as watermelon mascarpone and chocolate mint. It’s open until late night so a great place to stop by after partying.
9. Try summer foods in Tokyo
There are many foods that we especially eat during summer. One of them is Hiyashi Chuka, which is ramen served cold with many toppings such as cucumbers, eggs, hams, etc. You can find it in ramen shops and Chinese restaurants in Tokyo.
Grilled eel (unaju) is another dish we prefer to have during summer. Since eels are rich in nutrition, we have it to get stamina to overcome the hot, humid summer. You can find unagi restaurants in this article: 10 Unagi Restaurants in Tokyo: Taste Crispy and Delicious Unagi!
Anmitsu is a summer Japanese dessert. It is like a parfait made with kanten jelly, red bean paste, Shiratama mochi, ice cream, and black sugar syrup. Many Japanese style cafe offers Anmitsu during summer.
Find Japanese cafes in Tokyo: Best Japanese Style Cafes in Tokyo You Must Visit
10. Visit Mt. Fuji and hike
Last but not least is to climb the tallest mountain in Japan, Mt. Fuji. You can reach the starting point of a trail up the mountain from Tokyo and climb on the same day, but it is advisable to stay a night near Mt. Fuji. Mt. Fuji is open for everyone to climb only during summer, so many people visit this mountain to be the highest place in Japan.
There are actually many mountains in Tokyo that you can climb and these are one of the best destinations for a day trip to feel the nature in Tokyo. Mt. Takao is very famous as it was on the Michelin guide, but many more beautiful mountains are worth a visit.
Find more mountains around Tokyo: 10 Best Mountains in and around Tokyo
Information in this article are as of July 2019
Thumbnail image is from Flickr