• see & do
  • guides & tips

Experience the best of summer in Tokyo: A complete guide

By Giuliano Bettolini

July 31, 2023

Experience the best of summer in Tokyo: A complete guid

Hi there! I'm Giuliano - a wandering Italian who was charmed by the captivating beauty of Tokyo way back in 1983 and never managed to leave. What started as a brief affair blossomed into a lifelong commitment, as I found myself packing my bags and embracing Tokyo as my new home four years later. The city's transformation since then into a cosmopolitan hub has kept me hooked. Though I am a host with City Unscripted, this article is not about me guiding you through a few of the Tokyo tours offered and sharing with you some things to know before visiting Tokyo. Instead, it's about sharing my love for this extraordinary city with you.

Allow me to paint you a picture of Tokyo in the summer. As the warmth seeps into the city, it's as if the energy dial has been turned all the way up. The fusion of tradition and innovation come to the forefront as you wander through bustling streets that hum with vibrant festivals, sample sizzling delicacies in hidden food stalls, or bask in the tranquility of Yoyogi Park under the symphony of cicadas. The city radiates an unparalleled vibrancy that dances under the summer sun, making it the perfect setting for unforgettable stories.

So let's dive right in, and together we'll navigate the vibrant wonder of Tokyo in the summer with this guide!

The climate: Tokyo's summer weather

City Unscripted article image

Ah, summer in Tokyo. A spectacle unlike any other! Let me guide you through what to expect when you set foot on Tokyo's streets during these warmer months.

Early July through mid-August brings Tokyo's hot season.

"Hot" might be a bit of an understatement, actually. The average temperatures are often in the 30s and coupled with high humidity, it can feel like a proper sauna. But, fear not, Japanese people have an uncanny knack for staying cool. On every corner, you'll find stalls selling shaved ice and stores stocked with breezy T-shirts. The city lights in the evening are nothing short of magical, and the cool relief they bring is worth the extra cost of staying out the whole day.

Now, before you start packing your bags for visiting Tokyo, here are a couple of travel tips.

Summer in Japan isn't just about the intense heat, it's also about the rainy and typhoon seasons.

Picture this: One moment, you're celebrating summer with a walk in central Tokyo, and the next, you're caught in a sudden downpour. Not to worry, though - it's all part of the experience!

The rainy season typically begins in early July, with typhoon season following closely behind in August.

Remember, despite Tokyo's fair share of summer showers, these are also the months when the sun rises the earliest, allowing you to explore Tokyo at your own leisure. By early September, the summer season starts to wind down, giving way to the gentle embrace of autumn. Summer weather in Tokyo might require some adapting, but the memories you make will be worth every drop of sweat!

The cuisine: Tokyo’s summer foods

City Unscripted article image

When the summer sun rises, and the temperatures start to climb, the culinary landscape of Tokyo morphs to match the rhythm of the seasons. Exploring Tokyo in summer unveils a whole new world of seasonal foods, where every bite promises a cool respite from the intense heat. As the concrete jungle simmers under the July and August sun, both the local Japanese people and office workers alike celebrate summer with a shift in their food preferences, trading in hot meals for something a bit more refreshing.

Imagine strolling down Tokyo's streets, the air thick with the buzz of the city, when you come across a line of locals at a tiny stand. Intrigued, you join the queue and are soon presented with a bowl of cold noodles - a staple of Japanese summer cuisine. The chill of the noodles, contrasted with the summer heat, is like an instant splash of cool water. Then there are the shaved ice desserts, available in a rainbow of flavors at convenience stores all around the city. Each spoonful melts instantly on your tongue, a sweet, icy treat to keep you cool during the hottest months.

And let's not forget the plethora of seasonal fruits that Japan offers during summer! From succulent peaches to juicy watermelons, they're perfect for a light snack as you explore Tokyo.


The celebration: Japanese summer festivals in Tokyo

City Unscripted article image

Summer in Tokyo is nothing short of a grand celebration. It's the season when the city truly comes alive, not just with the rising sun and the heat but with an array of summer festivals that are a feast for the senses. Early July brings the twinkling charm of the Star Festival, also known as Tanabata.

Japanese folklore comes alive as people write their wishes on colorful strips of paper and hang them on bamboo trees.

As the wishes flutter in the breeze, you can't help but feel a part of the city's collective dreams and hopes. Stroll under the city lights adorned with intricate decorations, and you'll find yourself immersed in the magic of Tokyo in summer.

As the heat of July gives way to the warmth of August, Tokyo shifts from the celestial charm of the Star Festival to the earthly delights of the Bon Odori - the Dance of the Ancestors.

It's one of Japan's best festivals, and it's not hard to see why.

The city's public spaces transform into lively dance arenas where millions of spectators gather to watch and participate in the traditional dances. The sound of traditional music fills the air as the locals, dressed in colorful yukatas, dance to welcome their ancestral spirits.

Did you know that yukatas, the casual summer kimono often worn during festivals in Japan, actually originated from bathrobes? In the past, they were primarily worn after bathing in communal bathhouses, providing a quick way to cover up while still letting the skin breathe. Over time, their use has expanded, and now yukatas are a colorful and comfortable staple of Japanese summer celebrations!

The festival culminates in a grand fireworks display that lights up the night sky, a spectacle that will leave you awestruck. These summer events, filled with vibrant music, delicious food, and the jovial spirit of the Japanese people, are a testament to the rich cultural tapestry of Japan.

The retreat: Cool off at Tokyo’s water parks

City Unscripted article image

Now, no Tokyo summer is complete without a refreshing retreat to the city's water parks. They're a lively hub of fun and relaxation where you can escape the city's hot springs and instead cool off amidst the thrill of water slides and outdoor activities. When the temperatures creep up in the heart of July and August, these water parks transform into the city's go-to spots for both locals and tourists. Imagine it - one minute, you're in the middle of central Tokyo, and the next, you're zipping down a towering water slide, laughter ringing out over the splashes and screams of delight.

Visiting Tokyo's water parks is an experience as delicious as sampling summer food from a bustling Tokyo street stand. Take Yomiuriland's Pool Wai, for instance, with its vast selection of water rides and pools, perfectly catering to the needs of thrill-seekers and relaxation-lovers alike. Or the Summerland Adventure Lagoon, where you can ride the waves without even having to set foot in the ocean! And while you're there, don't forget to check out the convenience stores nearby for your own selection of seasonal foods and summer essentials like T-shirts and sunblock. As the sun rises, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink, there's nothing quite like floating in the Sumida River, watching the city awaken from its slumber.

Cultural highlights: Museums and Shrines

City Unscripted article image

On sweltering summer days in Tokyo, there's nothing quite like retreating into the welcoming, air-conditioned halls of the Tokyo National Museum. A refuge not just from the heat but also a place to immerse yourself in Japanese culture.

As Japan's oldest and largest museum, it's home to an extensive collection of art and antiquities that tell the story of Japan's rich history.

While strolling through its impressive galleries, you might just find yourself losing track of time, captivated by ancient samurai swords, delicate pottery, and centuries-old scrolls. Despite the summer weather outside, the museum offers a cool journey through time.

After you've explored the museum, the city awaits you with another cultural gem: the Meiji Shrine.

Nestled amidst a lush, verdant forest, the shrine is a prime viewing spot for some of the city's most tranquil green spaces.

The tranquility here is palpable - the perfect antidote to Tokyo's bustling summer streets. As you cleanse your hands at the Temizuya water pavilion and make your way to the main hall, you can feel the spiritual energy that has drawn millions of spectators from around the world. Despite the heat of the summer months, the Meiji Shrine offers a serene retreat where you can connect with Japan's spiritual side.

Did you know that the Temizuya water pavilion found at Shinto shrines across Japan is not merely decorative? It's actually a vital part of the Shinto ritual purification process called 'misogi'. Before entering the main shrine area, visitors cleanse their hands and mouth at the Temizuya, symbolically ridding themselves of impurities. This act of purification is a key part of the shrine visit, helping to create a sacred space and demonstrating respect for the Shinto deities.


Music and merriment: Summer music festivals

City Unscripted article image

When the sun sets in Tokyo during the summer months, the city comes alive in a whole new way. The rhythm of the city shifts from the humdrum of the day to the beat of music festivals that resonate through the balmy nights. Tokyo in summer transforms into a stage, hosting a diverse range of summer music festivals that showcase local and international talent. I've spent countless nights under the star-speckled sky, lost in the harmony of music and merriment. And let me tell you, there's no better way to celebrate summer!

From traditional Bon Odori music to contemporary rock and pop, Tokyo's summer music festivals have something for everyone. Take the Summer Sonic festival, for instance. It's a two-day extravaganza held in August, attracting big names from around the globe. Or Fuji Rock, set against the backdrop of the breathtaking Naeba Ski Resort. Even the Star Festival has a rhythm of its own. These summer events draw in millions of spectators each year, and it's not hard to see why. The energy of the lively crowds, the excitement in the air, and the feeling of unity as we all move to the same beat - it's magical.

Fireworks extravaganza: Tokyo's fireworks festivals

City Unscripted article image

There's a palpable sense of anticipation in the air as dusk falls on Tokyo in summer. The city, hot from the day's intense heat, begins to cool. Families and friends stake out the best spots along the Sumida River and in parks across the city, baskets of summer food in tow.

Why, you might ask? Well, it's fireworks festival season - a traditional summer event that transforms Tokyo's skyline into an awe-inspiring canvas of color and light.

Trust me, this isn't something you'd want to miss while visiting Tokyo during the summer months.

These festivals, known as "Hanabi Taikai" in Japanese, are a quintessential part of the Japanese summer, drawing in millions of spectators. The Sumida River Fireworks Festival is one of the oldest and most beloved.

Picture this: you're sitting by the river, the sky is darkening, and suddenly the first firework ascends into the night sky. Boom! The darkness is dispelled by a magnificent display of colors. And that's just the beginning - the show goes on for over an hour! It's a truly magical experience that intertwines with the traditional music and festivals like Bon Odori happening around you. Each burst of light, each explosion of color, is a celebration of summer in Japan.

Journey to nature: Short train ride to Mt. Fuji

City Unscripted article image

You know, Tokyo is undeniably spectacular, but let's not forget about Japan's natural beauty waiting just a short train ride away.

When the heat of Tokyo's summer gets a tad too intense, or if you're craving a change of scenery, I suggest hopping on a train for a day trip to Japan's highest peak – Mount Fuji.

It's quite the experience! Trading the lively crowds and bustling streets of Tokyo for the serene beauty of this majestic mountain is something that, well, you just have to do during your summer visit.

Now, when it comes to planning this trip, you might be wondering about the best time for a prime viewing spot. Well, the early bird does catch the worm, or in this case, the best views of Mount Fuji. An early start will let you escape the hottest parts of the day and enjoy the mountain's awe-inspiring grandeur as the sun rises, illuminating the peak in the soft morning light. Remember, the warmer months bring clear skies, making the summer months the perfect time for your journey.

Navigating the city: Using the Tokyo Metro in Summer

City Unscripted article image

Okay, so you're thinking, "Tokyo Metro in summer? How do I handle that heat and those crowds?" I get it - Tokyo's summer can be intense, and the Metro might feel like a whole new level. But trust me, it's not just about surviving - it's about getting the most out of your Japanese summer adventure.

Morning time in Tokyo's Metro is a different world, quieter, with less of a hustle. Make the most of it. Get an early start, catch that worm (or, in this case, an empty seat), and head out to your favorite corner of the city. If the idea of exploring Tokyo in high temperatures scares you, don't worry. The Metro is nicely air-conditioned, a blessing really during the hot summer months. Keep a Metro map on hand, and if you need help, the station staff are always ready to assist.

Consider investing in a Suica or Pasmo card. Although it might seem like an additional expense, it provides the freedom to hop on and off public transportation as you please, not just in Tokyo but in many other cities as well.

Summer in Tokyo is not just about the heat, it's about living in the city, and having a Suica or Pasmo card is your key to unlocking it all.

Staying cool: Beat the heat in Tokyo

City Unscripted article image

As someone who's survived many a Japanese summer, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: staying cool in Tokyo is an art form. And just like any art form, it takes a bit of practice, a touch of creativity, and a whole lot of fun.

Now, rule number one: your attire. T-shirts are your best friend in the Tokyo heat. Light, breathable, and oh-so-comfortable, they're the unsung hero of a Japanese summer. Just remember, style never has to take a backseat. Japanese fashion trends are your oyster; pick your summer palette and express yourself.

Rule number two: seek refuge in the most unlikely of places - convenience stores. These air-conditioned oases are scattered generously throughout Tokyo, and they're stocked to the brim with cool treats. From chilled drinks to my personal favorite - a sweet treat of matcha-flavored shaved ice - they're the perfect pit stops to rehydrate, recharge and keep the heat at bay. Hot summer days in Tokyo can be a challenge, but with the right tools and tricks, they're all part of the adventure.

Exploring the streets: The lively atmosphere of summer in Tokyo

City Unscripted article image

Ah, the streets of Tokyo in summer – there's something magical about them. The city bursts into life like a firework display, with the hustle and bustle of folks everywhere. It’s like the entire city has woken up from its slumber and decided to throw a continuous block party. It’s a whirl of laughter, smiles, and excitement all around.

As day turns into night, the city lights start their dance, reflecting off the glass skyscrapers and the lenses of a thousand cameras.

From the floodlit alleys of Shinjuku to the neon buzz of Akihabara, every corner reveals a new scene, like frames from an animated film.

There's something to catch your eye, something to make you smile, something to make you think.

Why you should experience summer in Tokyo

City Unscripted article image

So why should you experience summer in Tokyo? It's more than just the energy, the festivals, the food, or even the music. It's about embracing a kaleidoscope of experiences that open your eyes to a whole new world. It's about walking in the shimmering heat of the day, under the glow of towering skyscrapers, hearing the hum of the city, the chatter of the crowd, the clatter of a city alive and in love with life.

It's about sampling the best of Tokyo's summer foods, letting the flavors play a symphony on your taste buds. It's about the thrill of being part of a summer festival where tradition meets modernity in a whirl of color and sound. And it's about the moments of quiet in the middle of the hustle, in the cooling shadow of a shrine, or the tranquil beauty of Mt Fuji in the distance. Tokyo in the summer is more than a trip. It's an experience, an adventure. It's a ride that leaves you with a heart full of memories and a soul itching to return.

As your exploration of Tokyo awaits, I hope the city fills you with the same enthusiasm and excitement it instilled in me on my first visit. May your Tokyo tour be as vibrant as a summer day, full of unexpected discoveries and heartfelt connections. Here's to you and your summer adventures in Tokyo. Happy exploring!

Hello, curious traveler!
Embark on a unique experience with
Hello, curious traveler!
Embark on a unique experience with
City Unscripted Tokyo.
Our personalized, private tours, led by local hosts, make you feel like you’re exploring the city with a knowledgeable friend. We’ll take you to well-known sights and reveal Tokyo’s hidden gems, unveiling stories typically missed by traditional tours. So unscript your journey, and see Tokyo through the eyes of our local hosts!

We’ll pair you with the perfect host

face animation 1
face animation 2
face animation 3
face animation 4
face animation 5
face animation 6

There is no better way to see a city than with a friend who lives there. This is why we carefully match guests with their perfect host based on interested, personality and type of experience so they can discover a city beyond the tourist trail.