The Ultimate Japanese Words for Summer

The Ultimate Japanese Words for Summer

I can feel the humidity and heat coming in quick! Summer is just around the corner. How confident are you with your summer vocabulary? If you’re familiar with kigo (季語), your summer seasonal words list should be a long one. Kigo refers to seasonal words used in Haiku to describe the seasons.

If you’re not all too happy with your list, don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place to build that up. We’ve compiled a list of common and unique summer seasonal words for you to lock into memory! 

Natsu (夏)

Of course, the first on our list is “natsu” (夏). This translates to “summer”. The days leading up to summer are usually bright and warm. This phase of time is called “natsumeku” (夏めく). “Meku” is a suffix that loosely translates to “becoming like”. When you combine it with the Japanese word for summer, it means “beginning to look like summer”.

On the first day of summer (known as rikka, 立夏), everyone welcomes it with open arms. We’re past the cold and dry. Hello, heat and humidity. I don’t know about you, but I’m half-and-half when it comes to summer.

Anyway, after a few weeks into summer, we’ll feel natsubate (夏ばて). This is the fatigue and exhaustion you feel from the summer heat and humidity. “Bate” comes from the verb “bateru” (ばてる), which means “to be exhausted”. Combat natsubate with bottles of water and a sensu (扇子, folding fan).

Let’s not forget the natsumatsuri (夏祭り). The summer festivals are what keeps the spirits up during this humid season. You get everything from music and camping festivals to traditional street marches and food stalls.

For the students, you have natsuyasumi (夏休み) to look forward to! We all need that summer holiday, don’t we?

Fuurin (風鈴)

Come summer, you’ll hear chiming everywhere. That’s all because of the fuurin (風鈴). They are glass wind chimes that symbolises summer in Japan. Fuurins are made of glass bells with a string and a piece of paper hanging down underneath them. You’ll see these glass wind chimes on doors, windows and gates all throughout summer.

Sometimes, people write wishes on the piece of paper as well. When you hear the chimes of the glass bells, you’ll know there’s wind in the air to help with the humid heat!

Tsuyu (梅雨)

Before we get the hot sun, we get tsuyu (梅雨). Tsuyu is the rainy season that comes at the start of summer in Japan. Usually, it’s around the start or middle of June and lasts till the middle of July. They’re not heavy rain and it’s usually mild showers in general. However, Japan does get heavy rainstorms as well as typhoons. 

You won’t get the humidity as much during this time. Instead, you get tsuyuzamu (梅雨寒), which is the chill from the rain.

Kakigoori (かき氷)

shaved ice / イチゴミルク

Japanese people combat the Japanese summer with kakigoori (かき氷). This is a type of Japanese dessert made from shaved ice and topped with syrup and condensed milk. It’s really sweet, so those of you who have a sweet tooth will absolutely love it!

When summer comes, pop up stalls selling kakigoori appear everywhere! You can have your pick from street kakigoori to ones from specialist shops. Get an ice-shaving machine yourself and try it at home!

Hanabi (花火)

Epcot - All of Illuminations

Remember when we said there are summer festivals? What’s a festival without fireworks. Hanabi (花火) is one of the highlights of Japanese summer. Every town in the country throws some sort of event for a firework show. Couples, friends and family would bring their mats and find a spot to watch the show.

Mushiatsui (蒸し暑い)

We’ve been mentioning “humid” a couple of times. What is it in Japanese? It’s “mushiatsui” (蒸し暑い). When the air is moist and damp (or shimetta, 湿った) during the hot weather, that’s when you know it’s peak Japanese summer. I don’t think I’ve experienced a hotter and more humid summer than in Japan. So brace yourselves!

Minazuki (水無月)

According to the old calendar, there’s another way to refer to the month of June. It’s called “minazuki” (水無月). If you look at the kanji’s used, it combines the word for “water” (水) and “month” (月). The “mu” (無) character doesn’t hold any meaning. If you combine the other two, it translates to “the month of water”.

June is the start of the rainy season, after all. Minazuki is an appropriate name for the month.

Ramune (ラムネ)

Vendor selling Ramune in bottles

There’s a type of soda that comes in glass bottles. They’re called “ramune” (ラムネ). These bottled sodas have curved necks and a glass ball in the middle, referred to as bidama (ビー玉). This type of soda is so popular during the season of summer that it has now become a symbol of the season.

Shochu mimai (暑中見舞い)

Japanese people love sending greeting cards to friends and family during occasions. In summer, they send shochu mimai (暑中見舞い) to check in on their loved ones’ health and wellbeing. They can also send gifts, too!

If you send a greeting card at the end of summer, it’s then referred to as zansho mimai (残暑見舞い).

Hiyake (日焼け)

Summer calls for the sun, sand and sea! If you love going to the beach, you’ve got to brace yourself for the hiyake (日焼け). Hiyake translates to sunburn. Make sure you put on a lot of sunscreen with high SPF content! The sunlight in Japan is no joke!

Has your summer season vocabulary expanded? Prepare for summer with not only bikini bodies and new swimsuits but also a load of new Japanese vocabulary! 

Japanese Summer — How Long, How Hot & How to Survive!

Japanese Summer — How Long, How Hot & How to Survive!

We’re almost in the middle of the year, which means that the weather’s going to warm up. Whether it’s to have a dip in the ocean or lie on the soft sand, summer’s greatly anticipated. Japan’s summer, though, is no joke. Not only is it packed with events and festivals like neighbourhood matsuri (祭り) and music shows, but it’s the peak of heat and humidity.

You hear a lot of people talk about Japanese summer and how hot it can get here. How hot are we talking about? I’m telling you, it really is, coming from a girl who grew up on a tropical island.

So before you get packing for your next Japanese summer trip, here are some things you need to know.

People at a summer street festival in Japan.

Image Credit: Kentaro Toma
Natsu (夏) in Japan is something everyone should be talking about. I personally have never experienced humidity like this. And like I said, I grew up in tropical Singapore, so I didn’t think anything could be worse than that.
 

Japanese summer starts around June and lasts all the way till August. It’s roughly three months, but it can vary depending on exactly which part of Japan you’re in. There’s also global warming, so summer can start as early as late May and last as long as mid-September.

If you find yourself in the southernmost part of Japan, like the Kansai region and Okinawa, you’re going to get a longer summer. Don’t forget the humidity as well. The Kanto region, where the capital city Tokyo is, is not too far off the heat and humidity levels, too. However, if you’re up north in Hokkaido, you not only get a shorter summer but also the cool and not-so-humid weather. That’s why lots of locals travel up north during this time!
If you’re wondering where you should spend the summer in Japan, Tokyo’s your best bet. Here is where you get all the great festivities and events.
Don’t worry if you’re early for Japanese summer. Late May and early June are the best times for flower viewing. Hydrangeas bloom everywhere, along with some other summer florals. Kamakura’s Meigetsuin Temple is famous for its blue hydrangea garden.
Be prepared with umbrellas, though. The start of summer in Japan is also the start of the rainy season (tsuyu, 梅雨). You might even get a typhoon (taifu, 台風) or two. The rainy season can be a week of non-stop rain and strong winds, usually at the end of June to the start of July. You might want to avoid these dates if you’re not a fan of the rain.

Summer Temperature in Japan

Large crowd at a summer festival at a shrine in Japan.

Image Credit: Julie Fader

The temperature in Japan during the summer can fluctuate. One day it can be a great summer’s day, and the next it can be as unbearable as it can get. Some of my Japanese friends have noted that summer temperature in recent years has been particularly high. We’re advised to take precautions so as to not get heatstroke.

June’s weather is comfortable. You’ll get a cooling 22ºC in the afternoons and it drops to about 18ºC in the evening. Since it’s also approaching the rainy season, you can expect a few rainy days. Pack an umbrella!
It warms up in July after the rainy season. You get 22ºC evenings and warm and humid 28ºC afternoons.

Nothing beats August. It’s the hottest month of the year. 31ºC afternoons are conservative. It can go as hot as 35ºC for a whole week or two. Sunscreen and a bottle of cold water are going to be your best friends.

Summer Humidity in Japan 

Japanese Lanterns

Image Credit: Atul Vinayak

Sure, you can gauge the heat in Japan from the temperature, but it’s the humidity that gets you. You see everyone’s dressing going from chic to casual in a matter of days.

Some say it gets humid in June, but I say it’s already slightly humid in late May. June’s humidity level is at an average of 75%. The previous month’s humidity levels are 60%-65% on average. That’s quite a big jump from spring to summer.
July is looking at 79% humidity. It’s especially humid after the rainy season. August’s humidity level drops to 73% as it gets closer to autumn, but combine that with the hot temperature and you get the hottest month of the year. Don’t avoid August, though. It’s the month of festivities and events. Just pack a few caps and sunglasses.

Now you know. Japanese summer can get not only pretty hot but humid as well. What do you think, will you still be visiting the country during the summer? The Japanese festivities are a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it’s a lose-some-win-some situation, I might say. Don’t get scared off by the Japanese heat!

What To Love About Japan

What To Love About Japan

Introduction

People all around the world dreams of going to Japan. Regardless of what occasion you’re in Japan for, this country will far exceed your expectations in more ways than one. At one point or another, you definitely have stumbled across pictures or videos of the Japanese sakuras, maybe even the rustic streets of Kyoto. For some of us, they were what drew us into the fascination of Japan. 

This country has more in store for you than just the jaw-dropping landscapes — every corner is full of excitement and new ventures, even for those of us who are in Japan for longer than just a week or two-long holiday! Food, fun and freshness — what more can one ask of a country? Out of the thousands of reasons why, here I highlight the top 5 that will definitely get your hypes up about Japan!

1. Alcohol

Can anyone actually say no to good alcohol? When you’re in Japan, all alcohol is good alcohol; you definitely won’t be able to say no to them! Brace yourself for the huge alcohol range Japan has — not only are the Japanese beer of the best quality you can ever get in the entire world, but you also have other Japanese alcohol like umeshu (梅酒) and sake () at dirt-cheap prices! 

That’s not even the best part. I personally love the fact that every konbini (コンビニ) is fully stocked with a variety of alcoholic beverages! Everything from beers to fruity-flavoured three percenters like Horoyoi (ほろよい) — my ultimate favourites — is just footsteps away from your home. 

What’s more, unlike some countries in the world, Japan has no time limit on purchasing alcoholic beverages — so you don’t have to rush down to the nearest konbini two minutes before 11pm to get your night’s alcohol fix. I know that has been one of the best parts of Japan for me!

2. The Summer Is Nothing Short of Fantastic

Image Credit: Toshihiro Gamo

While Japan is famous for its spring season where the cherry blossoms dominate the country’s already beautiful nature, the summer in Japan is also a time of the year to be excited about. 

 The warm weather has the perfect combination for a getaway holiday: sun, sand and sea. Japan has more than a few beaches that are ideal for your sunbathing as well as beach and watersport activities. Okinawa might be the first stop that pops in your head — after all, it is Japan’s very own Hawaii — but even the cities not too far from Tokyo have awesome beaches that are even less crowded. 

Even the cities and towns have tons going on during the summer, so much that even the beach lovers might give a pass on a trip to the beach for a chill at a summer beer garden nearby or a day out dressed in yukata at a summer festival.

Summer Festivals

Enjoyed by both locals and travellers, summer festivals are ones to definitely be on your calendar! There’s the traditional Japanese summer festival that everyone looks forward to each year. Both guys and girls get dressed up in yukata, the summer version of a kimono, and walk down the rows and rows of stalls. After a whole day of munching on local street food and playing games, visitors end their day watching the fireworks in the evening.

Summer festivals aren’t just limited to the traditional one, though. There are quite a few other types of summer festivals — music ones are quite popular, consisting of local as well as international artists and attracting people all around the world; also keep an eye out for others like film festivals.

Summer Beer Gardens

Image Credit: sodai gomi

What’s a summer beer garden, you ask? Well, it’s exactly like how it sounds. Japan has a trend of indulging in refreshing beer during the hot summer months — so much like it’s a seasonal rite of passage. Beer gardens pop up in these months to cater to the demand of the people. Reasonably priced with a casual party atmosphere that’s perfect for gatherings of family, friends and even colleagues — what’s not to like about beer gardens?

Beer isn’t the only thing on the menu. Some of these stalls offer delicious foods that are perfect for both a la carte and food pairing to your beer. 

3. A Food Heaven

Speaking of food, who doesn’t love food? More correctly, who doesn’t love Japanese food? Sushi, ramen, yakiniku — you name it, of course, Japan has it; it is their local cuisine, after all. The best part of it all is that this is the only place on Earth where you can get the most authentic and truest flavours of Japanese cuisine.

Hiroshima is for okonomiyaki (お好み焼き); Osaka is for takoyaki (たこ焼き); Kobe is for beef (牛肉); Yokohama is for ramen (ラーメン); Fukuoka is for blowfish (ふぐ); Hokkaido for cheese (チーズ) — but what’s best is that you can get all of them in any city in Japan! 

Other than the Japanese food you already know, there are tons more you don’t! What about their unique cuisines like the kaiseki or kappo cuisine, where you sit back and relax while being served by the head chef of only the finest ingredients available during the season. You might think you know seafood before the dining experience, but be prepared to admit defeat and learn a thing or two from it. 

4. A Perfect Blend of Modern And Traditional, City And Nature

Japan has the best of both worlds: the modern city landscape and the preserved nature. One moment you’re surrounded by high rise buildings and neon lights, the next you’re deep in the woods surrounded by the cool natural breeze. Having both at your fingertips is extremely convenient, especially for an escape from the busy city life to the peaceful nature, or a buzzing night out instead of the quiet suburban life.

With about 3,000 kilometers from north to south in the Japanese archipelago, locals and travellers alike are spoilt for choices when it comes to natural sights — everything from the mangrove jungles in Okinawa to the drift ice in the seas of Hokkaido are experiences not to be missed out on. You don’t even have to travel to the ends of the country for some natural views; take in the beautiful coastlines and breathtaking volcanoes alongside preserved forests housing thousands of monkeys, deers, bears and other wildlife.

On the other side of the coin, there’s the wild and exciting city life of Japan that has the complete opposite atmosphere as well as activities to offer. The major cities like Osaka and Tokyo are definitely city stops to take if you’re an outgoing soul who needs bubbly afternoons and pumping evenings. For the shopaholics, better get your shopping shoes on — there’s a lot of ground to cover in Japan!

5. As Safe As Houses

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. Their crime rates are only getting lower and they have the second-lowest homicide rate after Iceland and the second-lowest assault rate after Canada. 

The best thing about being in Japan is not having to fear for your safety every second as you walk down the streets. No one will mug you in public, pickpocket your phone from the back of your jeans pocket or snatch your wallet on the top of the table you’re dining at. 

It’s so safe that there is at least a police box every five minutes’ walk down a neighbourhood street, so if you’re ever feeling unsafe during your walk back home, just pop in them and let the officers know.

Conclusion

The reasons mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg — there are so many more reasons as to why Japan is awesome. Most of the time, you have to experience it for yourself to understand the level of awesomeness this country is. There’s nothing quite like The Land of the Rising Sun, and I confidently believe that it’s a country everyone should at least once in their lives step foot on. So, what’s holding you back? Get your tickets booked now!

Best Beaches in Japan

Best Beaches in Japan

Introduction

You might not think of the beach as the first few destinations in Japan that you would want to add to your Japan itinerary, but you might want to reconsider. The city lights and culturally rich attractions are great and all, but can it beat a beach day out? Some are even wonderful spots for sunsets and sunrise — after all, it is the Land of the Rising Sun.

As soon as summer hits, you’ll see families and groups of friends crowding every beach in the country! From dipping in the waters to beat the heat and suntanning in the warm sun to beach sports and water activities, the whole stretch of shore will be full of excitement and fun. 

Whether it is travelling down south during the colder seasons or packing a day bag for the seaside in summer, the Japanese love their beaches. Let’s take a look at the top beaches in Japan — both mainland and islands — as well a few Japanese beach etiquette.

Japan Mainland Japan Beaches

Not all of the people in Japan want to take days off work just for a day at the beach down south. Some just want a day trip to a nearby beach on the mainland. You might think it’s a substitute of the island beaches of the tropical Japan destinations, but you’ll be surprised at some of these being even more beautiful than you imagined!

What’s more, these mainland beaches are more accessible and some even offer things you won’t get on the Japan islands. Here are the top mainland beaches for your short day getaway from the bustling cities: 

Kanagawa — Zushi Beach

Just around the corner from Kamakura in Kanagawa is the Zushi Beach. This is one of the most popular beaches in the area and the first choice for swimming, surfing and parasailing. If you’re in the city to visit the Budhha Statue, why not drop by this 600m long beachside for a leisurely stroll or sit?

If you’re lucky enough to get a clear sky on the day of the visit, be sure to stay till sunset. You’ll get to witness a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji as the sun sets behind its hilly bits.

Kanagawa — Yuigahama Beach

Source: Dick Thomas Johnson from flickr

Kanagawa is not far off from Tokyo, and if you find yourself in the area or looking for a beach to relax after a busy few days in the city, head down to Yuigahama Beach. This is the perfect choice for those looking for both relaxation as well as convenience in a beach spot. Yuigahama Beach is close enough to the nearest train station and fully equipped with pop-up stalls of food and drinks for your pleasure.

It’s only natural to assume a beach so developed would be less of nature and more commercial. Rest assured Yuigahama Beach is the perfect balance of serenity in nature and modernity. 

This beach spot is one of the favourite local choices for surfing as well, depending on the currents and tides. Plan your days accordingly to enjoy the best of what this beach can offer!

Shizuoka — Miho Beach 

Source: south from flickr

Don’t want to travel too far out of Tokyo? Perhaps a car ride to Mizo Beach in Shizuoka will satisfy your beach day cravings. This beach is unique in the sense where you won’t be getting a normal seaside view — you’ll be getting an Mt. Fuji view! 

Miho Beach is not your average sandy sand beach — it is rather pebbly in comparison. But a lie down on the sand isn’t what the visitors are here for. The stunning view amidst the tall pine trees and other beautiful flora nature makes the trip down here worthwhile. Grab your swimming suit — a dip in the sea with Mt. Fuji in the background sounds like an unbelievable experience!

Shizuoka — Toji Sand Ski Resort

Source: Izu navi from flickr

Even though it’s named as a resort, it’s not really one. Also in Shizuoka, not so far from Tokyo, is the Toji Sand Ski Resort! This is not your average beach. While you can still bring your beach mats, you might want to grab a sled as well (or rent one at a shop near the beach). This Toji Sand Ski Resort is one of the only few with a sand slope that you can sled down on as you take in the beautiful scenery.

After your sledding adventures and a dip in the waters, get your adventure on by exploring the nearby open cave called the Ryugukutsu. A trip to the Toji Sand Ski Resort will undoubtedly not be your average beach day in the best way possible!

Wakayama — Shirahama Beach

Take note that this is not the Shirahama Beach in Shizuoka that we’re talking about, this is the one in Wakayama! Named as the “white beach”, you expect it to be one of the most popular beaches in the country — and you’re right. This spot is one of the most ideal ones for both dipping and lounging, along with a wonderful resort area to spend a few nights in. 

One thing this beach spot has that the others don’t is the oceanside onsen. After your dip in the steaming Japanese hot springs, cool yourself down in the clear waters of the Shirahama Beach. You should also definitely stroll down the strip of sand to view the magnificent cliff formations!

Iwate — Jodogahama Beach

Image Source

While it’s a bit of a travel from central Tokyo, believe me when I say this beach is worth the trip. Jodogahama Beach in Iwate is part of the Sanriku Recovery National Park, so you’re assured a clean and nature-rich beach — its name does translate to Pure Land Beach. 

Not only this beach is a popular destination for all things swimming and hiking, but it’s also great for exploring the nearby caves amidst the beautiful and unique rock formations by going on a boat cruise. If you’re not all that adventurous, just the sight of it from the beachside is more than good enough.

Japan Island Beaches

Fair enough, Japan mainland has its own exquisite range of beaches, each with its own unique factor that the rest won’t have. Onto the island beaches in Japan — the Okinawa area is one of the most popular beach destinations for locals and tourists alike! 

The region is blessed with a semi-tropical climate all year round, and since it became so popular, the area is full of beach resorts worth spending a couple of days — or even a week! — to fully explore the mainland island as well as the other smaller islands.

Because it’s such a tropical island, there are tons of beaches that you might get overwhelmed! Fear of missing out on the best beaches in Okinawa? Read on to find out the top ones to put on your Japan island beaches list!

Ishigaki Island — Sunset Beach 

Last but definitely not the least on the list is Sunset Beach on Ishigaki Island. As the name suggests, this beach is the ultimate spot to view the sunset. To complete the serene view, the combination of the beach’s white sand and the glistening sea is so breathtaking it can be a picture on a postcard!

Before the sunset, take some time out for your snorkeling activities — you’ll be surprised at the variety of marine life you’ll see! Other water activities like jet boards and wakeboarding are available too! Ishigaki Island has become such a popular holiday destination that the resorts are great to stay a night or two so you wouldn’t have to rush your time on this spectacular island!

Miyakojima Island — Yonaha Maehama Beach

Image Source

Located on Miyakojima Island is the famous Yonaha Maehama Beach. The reason it’s so popular is that it’s one of the beaches in all of the Pacific with the whitest sands! It’s no wonder visitors make their way here despite the slight inconvenience in terms of accessibility.

With 7km long of white sand, even with the popularity, the beach is rarely crowded at all! Every kind of water sports can be done here — if you’re a fan of scuba diving and snorkeling, make this your #1 beach destination in Japan!

Don’t just travel here for a day. The island has resort areas full of campsites and hotels that line the shore. Wake up to the view of the horizon — if you’re lucky enough, you might even get a room that overlooks the sunrise or sunset! One of the best hotels you should consider is the Hotel Locus — stylish and affordable, it also has a couple of retail outlets to feed that shopaholic side of yours!

Hateruma Island — Nishi no Hama Beach

Source: Kentaro Ohno from flickr

On the southernmost island in all of Japan is Hateruma Island. This inhabited island, specifically the Nishi no Hama Beach, is the place to go if you’re looking for the most natural beaches in the whole country. The contrast between the fine sand and sparkling blue water is quite breathtaking — not to mention the awesome feeling of dipping in the waters and lying down on the soft sand bed.

Nishi no Hama Beach is quite far out and less developed in the sense of beach stalls and shops, so it’s best to bring your own swimming and beach stuff as well as refreshments to make the best of your day there.

Taketomi Island — Kondoi Beach

Image Source 

More accessible than the former two beaches is the Kondoi Beach in Taketomi Island. This beach is only a short ferry ride away from Japan’s top travel destinations, Ishigaki. This beach is more untouched than the ones on mainland Okinawa Island, so it’s one of the best island beaches to get your snorkeling gear on and see some fishes and corals!

If snorkeling is not your thing, a normal swim and dip are just as ideal — or you can take in the sun as you lie down on the soft, ivory sand.

Conclusion

You’re all set with the tips for Japan beaches, and you know exactly where to go for a fun beach day depending on the part of the country. There are tons of breathtakingly beautiful beaches in the country — it’s only normal to want to go to them all! When the weather is warm and the sun comes out to play, what will be your first pick for the sun, sand and sea in Japan?