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How to do Tokyo in summer like a local


Don a summer kimono, dance in the street and watch out for bears

Whilst Tokyo cannot welcome you right now, this time next year is full of promise with a jam-packed agenda. Major events aside, Tokyo is keen to share tips on making the most of summer in the capital and enjoying it like a local.  Tokyo offers plenty of unexpected experiences and activities, from dancing in the street with locals to immersion in nature; plenty to add to your Tokyo bucket list for next July.

 

Check out these 5 unmissable experiences to enjoy summer like a local in Tokyo:

 

1. FESTIVALS AND FIREWORKS

Join the locals as they take to the streets for Tokyo’s spectacular festivals and fireworks. Most evenings through July and August you will hear the rhythmic taiko drums in every neighbourhood, calling locals to celebrate summer and honour their ancestors with Obon* dancing and festivals. Temples are adorned with paper lanterns and people dress in colourful yukata (casual summer kimonos usually made of cotton). Throughout summer fireworks displays large and small take place around the city, offering another opportunity to don a yukata and take to the streets with the locals.

 

 

* Obon: Buddhist custom honouring the spirits of the ancestors, it is also known as the festival of the dead or the festival of souls. One of the most widely celebrated religious festivals in Japan.  Celebrations include organized Bon Odori Dancing to the rhythm of taiko drums.

 

2. ISLAND BEACHES AND URBAN POOLS

Enjoy Tokyo’s hot and steamy summer days by relaxing in the water. Tokyo is renowned for urban skyscrapers and bustling life, but there are many lesser-known beaches and resort-like pools to help cool you down in summer. If you have a few days, why not check out the subtropical Islands to Tokyo’s south, idyllic Island getaways, offering beaches and outdoor activities galore.  Check out the Beach & Pool Guide and Tokyo’s Islands.

 

3. NEARBY NATURE 

Explore a greener side of Tokyo, an easy daytrip from the city centre, also an ideal spot for summer camping or glamping. The Okutama area and surrounds are Tokyo's great outdoors. Enjoy the benefits of forest bathing, hike up to Mt. Mitake or Mt. Odake, cool off with a dip in pristine rivers.  Three fishing sites in the region offer rental equipment and everything you need for a BBQ. There are onsen hot springs throughout the region, great for a place post-lunch soak or an overnight getaway. Stop in at the Okutama Visitors Centre to get your bearings before you set out and also check if there have been any bear sightings.

 

 

4. ROOFTOP BEER GARDENS

Head to the roof for Tokyo’s best summer beer gardens. Office workers flock to Tokyo’s many rooftops and outdoor restaurants to enjoy summer nights in the fresh air. The season generally runs from mid-May through the end of September. Most offer all-you-can eat and drink packages. Check out this Beer Garden Guide.

 

5. EAT THE SEASON

Tokyo offers distinct changing seasons and summer brings unique flavours and seasonal treats. Summer festivals mean street-food style stalls proffering the Japanese version of traditional ‘fast food’ such as yakisoba and okonomiyaki, slices of watermelon, chocolate dipped banana on a stick and flavoured kakigori shaved ice. Cold noodles are a local food of choice in summer and so many different types to choose from; somen, soba, udon and hiyashi chuka, all refreshing on a hot day. And the fish of the season is the Ayu, small freshwater fish, you will find them at any festival during summer and even in the Michelin stared gourmet restaurants. Often barbecued on a stick to look like they are swimming. 

 

 

**In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), various facilities around Tokyo may change their operating days or hours. In addition, some events may be cancelled or postponed. Please check official facility or event websites for the latest updates and information.

 

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Published: 10 August 2020


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