Summer in Japan is a no joke! Some days you will feel the sun at the back of your neck and some days, the streets of Japan will be washed away by a heavy downpour that makes it seems impossible for anyone to walk. Since it is unavoidable, the best solution is to check the weather at least two weeks before your visit. If it’s going to rain all day, we recommend you to go sightseeing in a covered area. If the odds are in your favour, be sure to attend music, fireworks, and summer festivals to be a part of the Japanese cultures.
Keep yourself cool by using a hand fan.
Japan is best to visit during the summer season because there are plenty of things you can do but with a downside of scorching hot weather. Let’s check out how fun Japan is during summer.
The three main music festivals you must attend this summer are Fuji Rock, Summer Sonic and Ultra Japan.
Fuji Rock Festival
Only the biggest outdoor music concert in Japan is no other than Fuji Rock! Held at Naeba Ski Resort, Niigata, this year features a very strong line-up from The Chemical Brothers, Martin Garrix, Sia, Jason Mraz and a bunch more. The three days event will be held on 26th until 28th July 2019. In total, there are four main stages inside Fuji Rock which are Green Stage, White Stage, Red Marquee, and Field of Heaven, with a few small stages for smaller acts. If you haven’t purchased the tickets, check out their website at https://en.fujirockfestival.com/ticket/.
Fuji Rock Festival. Image Source: Tokyo Weekender.
Summer Sonic Festival
Meanwhile, for the Summer Sonic Festival, this annual three days concert will be held from 16th until 18th August 2019. Interestingly, the concert’s venues will take place in ZOZO Marine Stadium & Makuhari Messe, Tokyo and Maiko Sonic Park, Osaka. The festivals are organized at the same time and date, with the same line-ups. Therefore, you won’t miss any of your favourite acts. This year, Summer Sonic will bring Fall Out Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Chainsmokers and others. Purchase the tickets here http://www.summersonic.com/2019/english/.
Summer Sonic Festival. Image Source: Gaijinpot Blog.
Ultra Japan Festival
For EDM fans, Ultra Japan Festival is your must-go festival! Organized yearly at Odaiba Sonic Park, Tokyo, this year the event’s date is from 14th until 15th September 2019. Artists such as David Guetta, Afrojack, Zedd and more are expected to play their sets on this year’s Ultra Japan. For your information, this festival is not only held in Japan, but also in Taiwan, Singapore, Croatia and other countries. Grab your tickets here at https://ultrajapan.com/tickets.
Ultra Japan Festival. Image Source: Ultra Japan Official Website.
Summer in Japan isn’t complete without attending Japan’s cultural and fireworks festivals. Let’s look at some of the highly anticipated festivals this year.
This festival is quite similar like Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), celebrated in Mexico, where the festival is held to celebrate and remembers the deceased. This is the only time where the deceased will descend to this world to visit their families. The families will welcome the deceased by doing sacred rituals, dance and food offerings. This year, Obon or Bon Festival will be held on 13th to 15th August 2019. But some region will celebrate the event in July, following the lunar calendar. Here’s what you should know:-
Releasing the lanterns at the end of the festival. Image Source: Wander The Map.
On the first day of Obon, families will take the chochin lantern to the deceased’s grave to guide the spirits way back to home. This ritual is known as mukae-bon. However, in some regions, they will ignite a huge fire by the entrance of their house and skip the ritual.
On the last day, families will lead the spirits back to their grave by putting chochin lanterns, the same process as the first day. This ritual is called okuri-bon. In recent years, some people will sail a few lit-up floating lanterns down the river to drive the spirits back to their world.
Throughout the festival, you will get a chance to witness the Bon Odori dance in which they greet the deceased into their world.
Bon Odori. Image Source: Live Japan.
Hiroshima Lantern Ceremony
Held annually on 6th August, this is the day where Hiroshima will grieve the deaths of over 100,000 lives following a devastating tragedy of nuclear bombing which happened in 1945. The tragedy ended World War II. The citizens and survivors of Hiroshima bombing along with the Mayor of Hiroshima, Prime Minister of Japan as well as other notable figures will attend this ceremony to commemorate the deceased. The event will start at 8:15 AM until night time.
Floating lanterns passing by the Atomic Bomb Dome. Image Source: Visit Hiroshima.
Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony is held in the evening of the 6th August where thousands of people will purchase the paper lanterns, write a message on it and let it float from Motoyasu River. From the river, these lanterns will pass by the Hiroshima’s Atomic Bomb Dome.
Thousands of people watching the ceremony. Image Source: Japan Talk.
Originated from a Chinese tale around 2,000 years ago, Tanabata Festival is about two star-crossed lovers named Hikoboshi, a cow herder and Orihime, a princess and a daughter of the Sky King. After they met and fell in love with each other, they started to fail to look after their works. The King was very angry and decided to separate these two lovers. He only allows Orihime and Hikoboshi once a year, that is on the seventh day of the seventh month.
Decorations during Tanabata Festival in Sendai. Image Source: Japan Guide.
Therefore, most regions in Japan will hold Tanabata on 7th July so these lovers can be together for a day. However, in some regions, they celebrated it in August. The dates differed based on how they read the lunar calendar.
During the event, people will write their wishes on a strip of colourful paper called tanzaku and hang it on a bamboo tree. It is believed that if it rains on the day of Tanabata, the two lovers cannot meet. So, the people will wish for good weather on this day.
Writings on tanzaku. Image Source: Rove.me.
For a non-cultural festival, we recommend fireworks festivals! In Japan, fireworks festivals are one of the most exciting events to be at. There are numerous fireworks festivals held during the summer season in which you have to attend.
Naniwa Yodogawa Fireworks Festival
A festival that has been maintained for 30 years, Naniwa Yodogawa Fireworks Festival started as a volunteer project which was simultaneously turned into an annual celebration in Osaka. Every year, the fireworks will take place by the Yodo River, overlooking the city. This year, the festival’s date has been set to 4th August 2019. The one hour show will be followed by background music to suit the explosion of the fireworks.
To get the best view of the fireworks, make sure you attend early and before at least 6 PM because due to the crowdedness, the organizer will block anyone who tries to enter after the given time. Furthermore, if you come early, you can secure the best seat in the house!
Stunning fireworks display by the Yodo River. Image Source: Osaka Info.
Okazaki Fireworks Festival
Dates back to the Edo period, this festival uses mainly locally made fireworks which were introduced by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The firework is known as Mikawa. The show lasts around two hours and it started at 7 PM until 9 PM. This year, Okazaki Fireworks has been set to 3rd August 2019 and you can go to Aichi to witness the spectacular show.
Fireworks as seen in Okazaki. Image Source: Festival Go.
Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival
First held over 400 years ago during 1732’s famine, the eighth shogun, Tokugawa Yoshimune decided to conduct a firework festival to console the deceased and to put an end to their starvation in the future. However, the festival was discontinued and resumed back in 1978.
Organized right by the Tokyo Skytree, thousands of people will swarm the city centre to get a closer view of the fireworks. If you don’t want to be in the crowds, you can watch the show from Shiori Park or Oyokogawa Water Park. The ceremony runs for one hour and 30 minutes from 7 PM to 8:30 PM. The best part is you will get to see 20,000 fireworks colouring the night sky. Each year they will organize the event on the last Saturday of the month. So, this year, the festival is going to be on 27th July 2019.
Fireworks by the Tokyo Skytree. Image Source: Matcha Japan.