Things to Do in Japan in August

Summer, once totally settled in Japan, is present throughout August. Nocturnal terraces offer an ideal backdrop to gather with friends and fresh beers. Japanese people take some days of vacations to enjoy the big summer festivals and O-bon in mid-August. Tokyo becomes quieter, while countryside cities see many tourists arriving.

Tourism statistics

August appeals to many foreign tourists but not as much as July. August has levels of tourism close to April, and numerous tourists come to Japan. We consider August as being a high-period of tourism. Japanese people go on vacation mostly on weekends, and public transportation is crowded at the end of the week. We advise travelers to book seats in advance.

Climate and weather

As the hottest month of the year, August has average temperatures above 30°C (86°F) and as low as 20°C (68°F) in the evenings. The rate of sunny days in Japan is high, accentuating this hot and heavy atmosphere. We have to go to the northern part of the country or higher in altitude, such as Hokkaido, to enjoy lower temperatures.

Typhoons slowly appear with a more or less strong rhythm. Weather forecasts are very precise and provide real time information when big storms arrive. If needed, transportation can be suspended or undergo detours. After these heavy rains, the weather is quieter and allows visitors to enjoy outside discoveries.

National public holidays

August has only one unworked public holiday:

  • August 11 -- 山の日 yama no hi, Mountain Day

Along with the following O-bon period until mid-August, these few days allow summer breaks for the Japanese people to go to resort hotels and tourist attractions.

Top things to do

August's Japan events calendar is still filled with plenty of matsuri celebrations and especially fireworks that are held throughout the archipelago. Fired to close each event, they are usually scheduled on weekends but can also be held during the week. The illuminated paper lanterns also offer a magical night show to visitors.

The many traditional street celebrations encourage young adults to come into contact with the Japanese effervescence. As a family, the heat of the sun and sometimes the low-pressure climate require special attention for children and the elderly; museums, aquariums and other indoor air-conditioned tours are expected in case of bad weather.

Below is a list of Japanese seasonal attractions and events in August:

Date What to do Where Related
August 1 to 3 Participate in Nagaoka Matsuri: the most beautiful fireworks in Japan Niigata Event
August 2 to 7 Admire the colorful and lively Nebuta Matsuri with floats carrying traditional figures in washi paper Aomori (Tohoku) Event
First week in August Attend the harbor festival with fireworks in the bay and the Ika Odori dance in honor of octopus Hakodate (Hokkaido) Event
First Saturday in August Attend Minato Festival and fireworks on the port Kobe Event
First weekend in August Join the big summer festival Wasshoi Hyakuman happening around Kokura Castle Kitakyushu Event
First weekend in August Attend Lake Shinji’s fireworks during the Matsue Suigosai Festival Matsue Event
August 6 Follow the peace ceremony’s anniversary in Bomb-A Park Hiroshima Event
August 6 to 8 Enjoy the Tanabata Festival and huge decorations for stars’ festival Sendai Event
Until August 9 Watch the Bonbori Festival with 400 lanterns in Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Kamakura Event
August 12 to 14 Attend Sanuki Takamatsu Matsuri, one of the biggest gatherings of Shikoku in an enthusiastic crowd Takamatsu Event
August 12 to 15 Discover the wonderful Awa-Odori traditionnal dance festival Tokushima (Shikoku) Event
August 13 to 15 After July, celebrate again the dead spirits during O-bon, along with fires and other Buddhist rituals Everywhere in Japan Religion
August 14 Contemplate the gorgeous fireworks on the bay with Itsukushima’ s floating torii in the background Hiroshima Event
August 16 Wait until 8 p.m., nearby Kamogawa River, to witness the five surrounding mountains with Japanese characters for the Daimonji Festival Kyoto Event
August 23 to 24 Book in advance to attend the thousand candles’ ceremony at the Adashino Nenbutsuji temple festival Kyoto Event
All month long Walk along Dotonbori Canal, lighted by numerous lanterns Osaka Visit
All month long Climb Mount Fuji, preferably in the night to see the sunrise during the climbing season until the end of August Mont Fuji Hiking
All month long Enjoy the hot weather and camp with the Japanese people Everywhere in Japan Accommodation

Travel packing tips

Summer clothes in natural fabrics and a pair of breathable shoes adapted for excessive walking are essential. A hat, cap, sunglasses, and sunscreens are essential accessories to protect against the sun’s rays.

Once in Japan, you must remain hydrated. Plan in advance to bring portable and reusable bottles, coins to regularly use the vending machines, or to go into the air-conditioned cafes. For the most sensible travelers, a water spray and electrical fan should be packed for outside excursions.

To take stable photographs during night events, plan to bring a solid tripod to cover some of the gorgeous fireworks!

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