From festivals to fireworks, summer in Japan is a wonderful time to visit this beautiful country especially if you love having fun outdoors.
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Japan in July is a great time to enjoy the summer sun. Summer in Japan is famous for festivals, fireworks, having fun outdoors, and much more. One of the country’s biggest traditional festivals - Gion Matsuri - takes place in July and it’s also the beginning of the climbing and hiking season on Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji. There’s plenty to do indoors too when it rains. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting Japan in July, our recommendations for the best things to see and do, and how to get there using the country’s world-famous domestic rail system and your Japan Rail Pass for unlimited travel. We’re all going on a summer holiday this July!
July in Japan
One of the peak summer months, you can expect July in Japan to be sunny and hot. Humidity can be an issue though, so make sure you find ways to stay cool and drink lots of water. While July is typically hot, the exact weather does vary depending on which part of Japan you’re visiting. For example, subtropical Okinawa in the south can be especially hot, while the island of Hokkaido in the north is generally a lot milder. The weather in Tokyo during July is high in temperature and moderately rainy since it falls under Japan’s rainy season, which runs from June to August. Although it is not generally as rainy as June, it is still good to think about bringing ways to stay dry. However, it may not be necessary since temperatures in July can get as high as 93°F in Japan. While some may prefer the more temperate spring and autumn months, July is arguably the best time of year to enjoy Japan’s incredible natural landscape at its most spectacular and sun-dazzled.
Top 10 Things To Do in July
If you’re visiting Japan in July, you’ll find a wide range of things to see and do, especially if you love the outdoors. Activities stretch right across Japan’s islands and you can reach them all with the JR Pass - one ticket for almost all of Japan’s trains - giving you the freedom to explore the whole country at your leisure and bask in the glorious July sunshine. Don’t worry though, if the sun gets too much for you or the rainy season makes a late return then there’s lots to do indoors too. Here’s our list of the top 10 things to do in Japan in July:
1.) Summer Festivals (Natsu Matsuri)
Japan loves festivals. All year round, thousands of traditional festivals known as matsuri take place across Japan in cities, towns, and villages, often linked to shrines and temples. Summer is no exception. In fact, July features some of Japan’s biggest and best festivals, making it an amazing time to visit if you want to experience a Japanese matsuri for yourself. Gion Matsuri is one of the most famous festivals in all of Japan and takes over the city of Kyoto during July, with parades, street parties and plenty of food to be enjoyed. The festival dates back to 869 and the grand procession of floats - Yamaboko Junko - is so spectacular and so significant to the people of Kyoto, and the rest of Japan, that it has been registered with UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. For a full guide to this famous festival, read Experiencing the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto. Also in July is Tenjin Matsuri at Tenmangu Shrine in Osaka, which attracts over 1.5 million visitors each year. The temple is closely located to the station called JR Osaka Tenmangu station, which can be reached using the JR Osaka Loop Line and Japan Rail Pass. For a different kind of festival, you could also check out Soma Nomaoi, a three-day celebration of martial arts and horsemanship in northeast Honshu, which also takes place each year in July. To reach Soma, take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen line to Sendai and switch to the JR Joban line for Soma. For more on matsuri taking place in July in Japan read our guide to Japanese Summer Festivals.
2.) Bath in a soothing hot spring
It may seem counterintuitive in the warm summer months, but a hot spring is actually a great way to cool down. Soothing onsen hot springs are a Japanese institution, which can be enjoyed all year around from the height of summer to the depths of a snowy winter, and they’re a perfect way to refresh your skin and weary bones after a day out and about in the sun, especially if you’ve been enjoying some of the other recommendations on our list like climbing, hiking, or cycling. While there are outstanding onsen across Japan, we’ve picked out the onsen resort town of Atami near Tokyo, which is super convenient to reach with the JRailPass and is at the beginning of the Izu Peninsula - a much loved summer destination. Atami is easy to get to with the Japan Rail Pass. All you need to do is hop aboard the Tokaido Shinkansen in Tokyo with your pass and it will take you right to Atami Station in less than an hour. For more detailed information, our full guide to Visiting Atami and its Soothing Hot Springs has everything you need to know. The Izu Peninsula is a very popular summer destination thanks to its beaches such as Shimoda (which is also a picturesque port town as pictured above) and as a great place for watersports such as snorkelling, scuba, swimming, and parasailing - we’ll have more on these below.
3.) Beaches and Watersports
While Japan may not be everyone’s first thought when it comes to beach holidays, it actually features some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. They’re just a little bit more of a well-kept secret! In fact, it can easily compete with the rest of Southeast Asia and the Caribbean when it comes to white-sand beaches and tropical waters. Japan is an archipelago consisting of more than 6,000 islands so its beaches are plentiful and diverse. Shimoda, which we mentioned above, is a popular beach with a reputation for watersports. You can view the torii gate of the Shirahama Jinja Shinto Shrine from this attractive sandy beach. ‘Shirahama’ even means ‘white-sand’. Alongside its relaxing beaches, Japan is a very popular destination for watersports enthusiasts. Parasailing, sea kayaking and canoeing, paddle boarding and wind-surfing are all brilliant ways to enjoy Japan’s waters in July. You can read more in our guide to Japan’s Best Beaches for Watersports.
Meanwhile, if swimming and diving are more your thing, then Japan is famous for underwater adventures. Like its beautiful beaches, Japan’s renowned diving spots are still a bit of a well-kept secret, but diving experts and enthusiasts all agree that the country has some of the best locations in the world for diving, scuba, and snorkelling. When the July temperatures are high, what better way to keep cool than heading under the waves? Take a Deep Dive into Japan to find out more.
Cycling is very popular in Japan, and it is a brilliant way to see this amazing country. From huge urban city spaces with pathways, alleys, and parks, to rugged mountains, dense forests and beautiful coastal regions, Japan offers some of the best and most spectacular cycle routes in the whole world. Japan is also home to the Shimanami Kaido, which is widely accepted as one of the world’s greatest cycling routes. A 70km stretch of expressway which joins the country’s main island of Honshu with the island of Shikoku, the Shimanami Kaido is a perfect, energizing activity to enjoy outdoors during a July visit to Japan - just remember to stay hydrated. While cycling this breath-taking route, you’ll travel over six bridges, cross the Seto Inland Sea, and pass across six smaller islands. You’ll also enjoy views of Seto Inland Sea National Park and the Tatara Bridge – one of the longest of its kind in the world – as you journey from Hiroshima Prefecture to Ehime Prefecture. Miyako-jima and Irabu-jima are also great places to cycle during July thanks to crystal blue waters and Japan’s longest bridge. Miyako-jima and Irabu-jima islands not only offer a hugely enjoyable bike ride over 3,500 metres long, but also gorgeous coastal scenery, cafes, and beaches. For more on cycling in Japan, read our guide to Japan’s Best Cycle Routes.
6.) Climbing and Hiking
Japan is a rugged and mountainous country that makes it ideal for climbing and hiking. From iconic and spectacular landmarks like Mt. Fuji to more off-the-beaten track areas for exploring, if you love putting on your walking boots to enjoy the great outdoors then Japan has something for beginners and experts alike. When it comes to the 3,776 metre tall Mount Fuji, the month of July is the official start of the climbing and hiking season. There are four routes which vary by difficulty. The official season for the Yoshida Trail - arguably the most accessible - opens July 1st and lasts until September 10th. All other trails open on July 10th. During that time hikers can enjoy amenities, such as mountain huts, medical supplies, food and drink, and guided tours. Hiking Mt. Fuji is no mean feat however and must be taken seriously. Our guide to Climbing and Hiking Mt. Fuji has more information. If you’re more of a beginner then why not read our Starters Guide to Hiking in Japan for some helpful tips to get started? Other popular hiking trails to consider include the historic Futabanosato Walking Trail in Hiroshima and Hakuba Valley during the green season (more on this below). Meanwhile, if you’re staying in the Mt. Fuji area then the breath-taking Fuji Five Lakes provide endless beauty and plentiful outdoor experience and activities during July and the rest of the summer.
7.) Summer Fireworks (Hanabi)
While people in the west often associate fireworks with the winter months, in Japan they’re much more common in the summer. In Japan, fireworks are more than just a light show, they’re an art form known as ‘hanabi’ which literally translates as ‘flower fire’. While historically used to ward off evil spirits and honour the dead, fireworks are synonymous with summer celebrations. July sees one of Japan’s biggest summer fireworks festivals take place - Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival. Founded in 1732, Sumidagawa is the oldest fireworks festival in the world and takes place on the banks of Tokyo’s Sumida River near Asakusa on the last Saturday in July. Summer nights and fireworks go hand in hand! There are lots of major firework displays in Japan over the summer. You can learn more about the art of Japanese fireworks in our Guide to Hanabi.
8.) Fun indoors
Japan’s rainy season starts in June, but it does vary from region to region and July can definitely see some rain. If you find yourself caught in a downpour, don’t be downbeat. There is a huge amount to do in Japan when the weather is on the wet side. From watching a traditional Sumo tournament to going on a shopping spree in one of Japan’s malls (or famous side districts like Tokyo’s Harajuku and Nakano Broadway or Osaka’s Dotonbori and Denden Town) to visiting the country’s incredible castles and imperial palaces, spectacular theme parks, unique museums like the Studio Ghibli Museum, or world-leading aquariums, you’ll never run out of things to do. In Japan, the word Otaku refers to geek culture but technically means people who have such passionate interests they stay indoors all the time, so you know this is a nation who has turned having fun inside into an art from whether it’s manga and anime or computer games. For more on the latter read our guide to Japan for Gamers, J-Culture, and Otaku fans, which includes destinations such as games arcades, theme parks, and anime themed shopping malls.
9.) Visit Hokkaido
If the thought of sweltering July heat brings you out in a sweat, then perhaps a day-trip (or longer) to the north of Japan is in order? Hokkaido - Japan’s northernmost island - is snowy and icy in the winter, but in the summer is beautifully mild, making it ideal for those of us who run hot and overheat very easily. In the summer months, Hokkaido is also in bloom and comes alive with beautiful flowers. One of the island’s most famous flowery destinations is Furano Lavender Town. Lavender has been cultivated in Furano for more than half a century and the fields begin to bloom from around June each year and reach their peak in July, making it the perfect time to visit. Furano’s famous lavender is used in all sorts of foods, perfumes, soaps, and other products – even ice cream! Hokkaido can be reached directly by rail from Tokyo, with a one-way trip taking roughly four hours using the Hokkaido Shinkansen. The trip is fully covered by the JR Pass.
Visit a ski resort in summer? Are you crazy? Trust us, this is a great recommendation. While in winter, Hakuba in the northern Japanese Alps is a world-famous ski resort, in the summer months the ice and snow melts and it transforms into a vibrant green wonderland of lakes and forests, perfect for outdoor activities and adventures. Just check out the photo below if you don’t believe us. Hakuba has many beautiful freshwater lakes and ponds (such as the famous Happo Pond), with the chance to enjoy sport fishing, swimming, boating, and windsurfing. Mount Shirouma is famous for hiking while you can also indulge in a spot of ‘flower gazing’ in Hakuba’s beautiful alpine gardens, such as Iwatake Lily Park in Hakuba, described as Japan’s garden of Eden. Read our guide to Hakuba for more.
Bonus Tips for Summer Visitors
- If you can’t decide which month, you’d like to visit Japan, why not find out more about Japan’s Seasons? Read our guide to Japan’s Weather: Deciding When to Visit for everything you need to know.
- Stay ahead of the weather by keeping an eye on the latest online forecast. To do this, we recommend purchasing a PocketWifi device for unlimited WIFI 24/7 on up to 10 devices.
- Visiting Japan for the first time in July? If you need a helping hand, try our Meet and Greet Service - it’s like having a personal assistant (and Japan expert) on hand to help with your holiday.
- When travelling to Japan in the summer months, remember to pack suitable light clothing, including different kinds of footwear, and waterproof items for when it rains, and don’t forget sunscreen. Temperatures can reach 93°F.