July is the starting month for matsuri, Japan’s summer festivals. Numerous hanabi (fireworks) regularly occur in the cities, on riverbanks, and in the mountains, mostly on weekends. During the cooler evenings, Japanese people enjoy relaxing over drinks, eating meat skewers like yakitori, or following nocturnal parades. Meanwhile, the summer cicadas signal the students’ well-deserved summer vacation.
More tourists visit Japan during July than almost any other month. School summer vacations in Western countries strongly encourage families and groups of friends to visit Japan for about fifteen days on average, though some people stay longer.
Tourists usually travel across the country and do not hesitate to venture outside the main cities to discover the lushness nature and Japan’s traditional heritage. Southern destinations, such as Hiroshima or Shikoku and Kyushu islands, also receive an influx of tourists. Therefore, booking accommodations in advance is essential to ensure comfortable travel.
The National Japan Rail Pass is an interesting compromise that allows visitors to travel freely on the JR network’s numerous railways. Private bus companies also offer transportation passes for several days of highway travel—less expensive for sure, but less comfortable and quite time consuming.
Climate and weather
Tsuyu rainy season covers the major part of the month and officially ends on July 19. Afterward comes heat and high humidity. Typhoons can form at the beginning of summer, even if the risk is higher the following months. Clouds are numerous and dense, and they sometimes obscure beautiful views, such as those of Mount Fuji.
The Kansai and Kanto areas experience high average temperatures from 27 to 31°C (80.6 to 87.8°F). Along the Pacific coast, the ocean’s temperature often exceeds 20°C (68°F). In the north, Hokkaido offers cooler weather at around 25°C (77°F).
National public holidays
July has only one unworked public holiday:
- Third Monday in July -- 海の日 ume no hi, Marine Day
Another important memorial day is celebrated in the capital:
- July 17 -- Tokyo Day, the day on which Edo was renamed Tokyo in 1868
Top things to do
In summer, days are getting longer in the evening. After sightseeing, tourists continue their discovery of the country through the japanese summer nightlife: dance festivals, fireworks, fairground stalls or beer garden.
Below is a list of Japanese seasonal attractions and events in July:
|Date||What to do||Where||Related|
|July 1 to 15||Attend the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival, including the impressive float race on the last day; the race starts at 5 a.m. in front of Kushida Shrine||Fukuoka||Event|
|First weekend in July||Participate in the Aizen Festival at the eponymous temple||Osaka||Event|
|From early July||Climb Mount Fuji, preferably at night, to see the sunrise; the climbing season lasts until the end of August||Mount Fuji||Hiking|
|July 7||Enjoy the Tanabata Matsuri aka the Star Festival and admire colorful street decorations||Everywhere in Japan||Tradition|
|July 9 to 23||Attend the Grand Sumo Tournament at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium||Nagoya||Tradition|
|July 13 to 15||Celebrate Obon, the Buddhist Festival of Dead around a fire with sutras prayers||Everywhere in Japan||Religion|
|July 15 to 17||Participate in Gion Matsuri’s big events, happening day and night around Shijo Dori and Yasaka Shrine/td>||Kyoto||Event|
|Around July 17||Participate in Shimokitazawa’s summer district festival in its eastern part by enjoying numerous games and food stalls||Tokyo||Event|
|July 24 and 25||Follow the parade of illuminated boats during Tenjin Matsuri||Osaka||Event|
|July 28||In the evening, attend Fudo-in temple’s walk of ashes of, performed by yamabushi priests during the Tanukidani ceremony||Kyoto||Religion|
|Last Saturday in July||Discover Okinawa’s traditional dances during the Eisa Festival at east and west exits of Shinjuku Station||Tokyo||Event|
|Last weekend in July||Admire beautiful fireworks on the Sumida River with Tokyo SkyTree in the background||Tokyo||Event|
|Last weekend in July||Go to the open-air Fuji Rock festival at Naeba ski resort||Yuzawa (Niigata)||Event|
|Last weekend in July||Attend street performances and the release of lanterns at the harbor during the Tide Festival||Otaru (Hokkaido)||Event|
|All month long||Try a traditional Japanese meal above a refreshing river||Kibune (Kyoto)||Food|
|All month long||Enjoy summer foods: cold soba noodles, unagi eel, fresh fruit (watermelon and peaches), and kakigori flavored ice||Everywhere in Japan||Food|
|All month long||Enjoy beaches on the Pacific coast or on the Sea of Japan coast, or visit a water sport theme park, such as Tokyo Summerland||Everywhere in Japan||Leisure|
|All month long||Hike across Hokkaido national parks and enjoy cooler weather with lush nature||Hokkaido||Hiking|
Travel packing tips
Choose light and comfortable clothes to stay cool despite the heat and rain. Do not forget your bathing suit. Hikers should pack a complete set of equipment, including hiking shoes with ankle support, protective gloves, and a warmer jacket for mountain peaks.
During matsuri season, even tourists can wear yukata (cotton kimonos) to wander the streets in the evenings. The hot, humid weather is a good reason to buy a pretty and efficient Japanese fan.
Do not forget mosquito repellent cream or spray, as well as good sunscreen, sunglasses, and a cap.