As people in the northern hemisphere are now either enjoying their summer festivities or staying indoors to avoid the heatwave, let us explore what summer is like in Japan. Our Columnist Steffen Hadi shares his experience and some tips for you who are studying, working, or even planning your holiday in Japan.
Heat, beaches, swimming, sunglasses, festivals and fireworks. Yep, summer is coming folks. Well, it does not apply for folks in two-season countries like Indonesia of course, but it is a big deal for people in four-season countries, including Japan. And if you are lucky enough to have the chance to be in Japan during summer, then prepare to embrace thousands of outdoor events that can entertain your eyes!
In this opportunity, I would like to share to you about what’s happening during summer in Tokyo.
Festivals and Festivals
At least at almost every famous corner of Tokyo there will be festivals on various dates. There are Tanabata festival around Tokyo Skytree, Shinjuku Eisa festival at Shinjuku, Mitama Matsuri at Yasukuni Shrine and many more. The festivals are held in various forms namely bazaar, mob dance or parade. Usually for the festivals the government would close a specific street for the bazaar or change the traffic flow to allocate the space for the mob dance or parade. Plenty of stuff is sold at the bazaar, usually unique traditional items, traditional foods, refreshment and booth for mini games. For locals these are very entertaining as it occurs once a year, let alone for foreigners.
When are those festivals? The festivals won’t be held at the same time, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the most of it. Months before summer, the government would publish schedules for festivals around Tokyo. They would publish it on brochures, newspaper or social medias. So make sure you won’t miss any of it!
If you are an anime or J-Drama enthusiast, you would probably know the scene where the characters gather to watch fireworks. Such scene occurs during summer. Yes, the Japanese government invests a lot for summer festivities, and some of those are allocated in fireworks. A lot of fireworks would be lit during summer and they are free (this is the most important factor right!?)
Some notable fireworks in Tokyo are Sumidagawa and Edogawa fireworks. Fireworks at Sumida river are the most famous for tourist as it is so-called the biggest fireworks.
If you wish to capture a very Japanese ambience, then come to the festival during summer. You can see people wearing Yukata, traditional dances, eat traditional foods and even take part in traditional games.
During summer festivals you would also see trees of wishes where people write their prayers and bind it on a tree.
Unfortunately, summer in Japan is not all about the good things. There are some things you must anticipate to make your summer more enjoyable:
The heat in Japan (or at least in Tokyo) during summer is almost unbearable. I cannot forget a day during summer when I had to withstand a 43-degree Celsius. Yep, summer in Japan is not an ordinary dry season like the one in Indonesia. Summer in Japan can be really hot.
People all around the world are well aware of the festivity of summer in Japan, thus, the number of tourists in Japan increases dramatically. Tokyo can suddenly be a very crowd city with many tourists. This, of course, affect you because the metro train would be very crowded, people would flock the restaurant to avoid the heat, tourist attraction would be stuffed with people and many more.
All in all, I can say that summer is the best time for you to visit Japan (aside from winter). So prepare your sun cream, sunglasses and summer attire and have fun!
Photos provided by the author