Summer in Tokyo: Festivals and Humidity

There are many things in Japan that the Japanese people feel proud of, but there is nothing that they prize more than the fact that Japan has four very distinct seasons.

“But my country also has four seasons!” I hear you cry… well, that may be true, but no-one celebrates the changing of the seasons more than the Japanese. Their culture, festivals, and even food, are intricately linked to the different seasons.

seasons
The Four Seasons of Japan

Many of you may have heard about the cherry blossom season in Spring or the vibrant changing of the leaves – but its much more than that here… everything changes – the way stores are organised, the decorations that are strewn all over the city, the types of food served in restaurants… even the atmosphere changes.

But this post is not about this interesting phenomenon surrounding the changing of the seasons. No, this post is specifically about the Japanese summer – the only season I have personally experienced so far.

I arrived in Japan during the summer rainy season (tsuyu梅雨) – a very wet and very humid month. And if you didn’t arrive at your destination dripping with rain – you would definitely reach your destination drenched in sweat.

Umbrella's everywhere! It can be quite dangerous!
Umbrella’s everywhere! It can be quite dangerous!
Part of the Imperial Palace on a humid day threatening rain.

Coming from Cape Town, (arguably) the windiest city in South Africa thanks to the infamous Cape Doctor, I was not used to humidity. And, my God, is Tokyo humid. Even after the rainy season ended (mid-July), the humidity continued to climb. I must admit that I would sometimes have to pack a change of shirt for work as I would often arrive at the office covered in sweat (seriously not a pretty image). In fact, the humidity is so bad that most people rush from air-conditioned building to air-conditioned building so as not to be exposed to the sticky heat (or the pouring rain).

A sticky summer's day outside a temple in Akasaka
A sticky summer’s day outside a temple in Akasaka

But its not all unbearable. Aside from the weather, the summer season has some great festivals. Most famous of which include firework festivals where loud bangs and fantastical lights brighten the summer night skies – along with the vibrant smells and sounds of the street food vendors lining the roads. Another famous custom during this time is the Obon festival – a Buddhist custom honoring the spirits of one’s ancestors.

Fireworks on August 3rd in Saitama
Fireworks on August 3rd in Saitama

Overall, summer in Japan is not a bad season (despite the humidity). Just make sure that you miss the rainy season and that you have plenty of refreshingly ice-cold drinks (which can easily be obtained from the various vending machines lining the streets).

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5 thoughts on “Summer in Tokyo: Festivals and Humidity

  1. Pingback: Spring in Tokyo: Beautiful… but Weird – Booth in Japan

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  3. Pingback: Autumn in Tokyo: Pure Beauty | Booth in Japan

  4. Naomi

    Hi there, interesting read. I both love and hate Japan in the summer. It’s so disgustingly humid, but the festivals are wonderful, and you get used to the humidity after a while! There’s a certain excitement in the atmosphere of the rainy season. I loved visiting Hokkaido this summer because it was slightly cooler but still had nice sunshine. The weather there was much closer to the UK’s climate!

    Like

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