Best of the best summer activities

  

Tenjin Matsuri

Summertime in Japan is filled with festivals. Float parades are held across towns and ladies don their yukata or cotton kimono to walk on the streets. Sake and beer flows amidst the food stalls with fireworks exploding at the background. Famous festivals include Gion Matsuri which is famous in Kyoto and spans the whole of July. Tenjin Matsuri festival runs at Osaka from 24 to 25 July. People from northern Honshu display their strengths by balancing lanterns on bamboo poles on their shoulders for annual Akita Kanto festival. Over at Miyajima there is Kangen sai on the 1st of August with music ceremony on boats. Kodo Drummers perform during Sadogashima on late August for earth celebration. July as well as August are months where fireworks rule the Japanese skies. There is the Sumida gawa festival for fireworks and Biwa Ko festival also for fireworks.

Mid-August is the period of O-bon, a ceremonial festival for showing appreciation to ancestors spiritually. Whole of Japan goes on holiday and one would be able to witness the Bon-Odori traditional dance. It is a simple repetitive dance with dancers using fan or towel as dance prop. An excellent place for admiring Bon-odori is Awaodori Matsuri at Tokushima. Dancers compete in teams for prizes. Gujo Hachiman, a small mountain town at northern Nagoya offers spectators 32 nights of continuous dancing, some stretch into the mornings. Spectators are welcome to join in the dance and fun.
Summertime dining dishes are unique in Japan. One specialty include cold noodle or somen noodles. It is refreshing to many. The noodles are chilled and served with tasty sauce and fresh vegetables and eggs. One can also experience catching your own noodles flowing from bamboo pipes by using chopsticks. It is called nagashi somen and is a local delicacy. Summer festivals are accompanied by stalls selling fried stuff and bite size snacks. Fried stuff or yaki dominate sales levels and you can find immense flavor for yakitori or tako-yaki. Kakigori, a refreshing dessert is a must try if you fancy shaved ice with syrup and fruit toppings under the hot summer. Different syrup flavors are available to the masses.
Beer garden officially opens from May to September. Students, party groups, working adults and families will all flock to the beer gardens to escape the heat by having a cold drink. Meals come in standard buffet packages complete with beer. The cost is affordable ranging from 3,000 to 4,000 yen. It is definely not fine dining standards. Department stores are places you can find beer gardens. Alternatively try looking at hotels and parks. Popular spots include Mori-no, located at Meiji Shrine. Others include Kyoto Tower rooftop at Kyoto. For those in Osaka, you can check out Hankyu Top. Ask around and you will be directed to the nearest beer garden.
Travel to the northern islands of Japan if you are tired from the summer heat.
Go north. It is the best time for hiking as cold weather restricts hiking activities around Japan's national parks. Try out popular hiking spots such as Yotei-zan or Shiretoko Park. Alpine flowers start to bloom during summer time and breathtaking Furano flower fields begin their life. Tomita Farm landscape will transform into different colour ranges from pink to purple. Sapporo Festival during summertime is a good hangout spot as well. It is organized around July to August with one large beer garden setting in the center. The seating capacity is 13,000 people. There are plenty of traditional dance performances, fireworks and firefly observation. You will definitely have a great time drinking away and listening to the loud cheers and lively spirits.

 

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