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Cooling Off in Summer, Japan

Magazine

UpdateJune 13, 2018
ReleaseJune 4, 2018

As many places in Japan are unbearably hot and humid in summer, Japanese people have devised various techniques to cool themselves off in summer. This article will introduce you to various ideas, events, items, and places to “beat the heat” and enjoy summer.

Cool Yourself Off Near Water

How about enjoying activities near water where you can feel refreshed?

River Boat Tours

Enjoy boat riding while enjoying the cool breeze. Nagatoro Line Kudari (River Boating) tour at Nagatoro (Saitama Prefecture) is a guided-tour to enjoy boat riding, which is mostly relaxing and sometimes thrilling.
Nagatoro Line Kudari (River Boating)
Photo coutesy of Saitama Tourism Division

You can enjoy river boat tours at many places throughout Japan!

Geibikei Valley Boat Riding (Iwate Prefecture)
(C)Iwate Tourism Association

Tenryu River Boat Riding (Nagano Prefecture)

Yanagawa Boat Riding (Fukuoka Prefecture)

Yakata-bune Houseboat Riding

Yakata-bune offers a unique, luxury experience of enjoying changing views while savoring delicious dishes, such as sashimi and tempura. In Tokyo, the Sumida River, Shinagawa, and Odaiba are famous for yakata-bune tours. Yakata-bune tours are offered at various other places throughout Japan, including Sakata (Yamagata Prefecture), Niigata (Niigata Prefecture), Osaka (Osaka Prefecture), and Hita (Oita Prefecture).
Yakata-bune of Shinagawa

Items

There are some goods and items that help you feel cooler.

Sensu (handheld foldable fans)

The origin of sensu is said to go back to around the 9th century. Open it up and you can get cool anytime, anywhere. A wide variety of foldable fans are available, from 100 yen-shop ones to high-end ones contained in a wooden box. They also make great souvenirs.
Summer Sensu with a Refreshing Design

Furin (wind chimes)

Hanging at windows and making a cool sound when stirred by a breeze, furin are one of the signature summer features of Japan. Enjoy the refreshing sound. Famous types of furin include “Edo Furin,” made with glass (Tokyo) and “Nambu Furin,” made with cast metal (Iwate Prefecture).
Furin

Cool Food

Palate-pleasing food that brings you coolness.

Kakigori (shaved ice)

There is an unprecedented kakigori boom in Japan. Various unique kinds of kakigori are offered, including traditional ones with azuki red beans, luxury ones generously topped with seasonal fruit, and ones with homemade unique syrups.
Kori-shiruko (Kanna, 750 yen)

Wagashi (Japanese confectionery)

In summer, you can see various kinds of wagashi sweets with a refreshing appearance and texture suitable for summer at wagashi shops. Try wagashi sweets with summer-image designs, such as summer festivals, goldfish, and sweetfish, available only in summer.
Wakabakage (Toraya, 519 yen, available from July 8 to 31)

Shirokuma

Shirokuma is Kagoshima’s popular dessert with condensed milk and various fruit toppings on shaved ice. A cup version is available.
Ganso Kagoshima Nangoku Shirokuma (Seika Foods, 129 yen)

Cold Noodles

There are many kinds of cold noodles in Japan, including zaru-soba (cold soba noodles served with a dipping sauce), somen (cold thin wheat noodles served with a cold dipping sauce), and hiyashi-chuka (cold Chinese-style noodles with various toppings). A member of cold noodles, hiyashi-ramen from Yamagata, has become available at more places in Tokyo. Try it if you have a chance.
Hiyashi-ramen (Sakaeya honten, 810 yen)

Travelling through cool air

The following section introduces recommended travel plans for summer, where you can enjoy great views and feel the coolness.

Nippara Shonyudo Limestone Cave (Tokyo)

With an annual average temperature of around 10 degrees Celsius, Nippara Shonyudo is a place where you can feel the coolness even in summer. Located in Okutama with its abundant nature that makes you forget you are in Tokyo, the cave shows you the stunning beauty of natural figures formed from stalactites and limestone.
Nippara Shonyudo, filled with cool air even in summer

Highly-recommended Limestone Caves Where You Get Cool in Summer

Ryusendo (Iwate Prefecture)
(C)Iwate Tourism Association

Ryugado (Kochi Prefecture)
Photo coutesy of Kochi Visitors & Convention Association

Akiyoshido (Yamaguchi Prefecture)

Kegon no Taki Waterfall (Tochigi Prefecture)

Okunikko is a cool place throughout the year, with an average temperature of 20 degrees Celsius in August. Kegon no Taki is a large-scale waterfall in which the water from Lake Chuzenji falls from a height of 97 meters at a single roaring stretch. After seeing the falls, you can also enjoy onsen in the nearby area.
The roaring sound and splashing water at the waterfall basin.

Oigawa Railway Ikawa Line (Shizuoka Prefecture)

Running for 25.5 km from Senzu Station to Ikawa Station, this torokko (tram) train offers a refreshing landscape along the scenic gorge, making you forget the summer heat. Get off at Oku oi Kojo Station and you can walk on a walking path alongside an iron bridge over the emerald-green dam lake. *There may be cases in which an observation car is not connected.

Oigawa Railway Ikawa Line

View from a Photo-shooting Point (20-min walk from Oku oi Kojo Station)

*Information on this page is as of June 2018.