What are your country’s summer traditions?

10 Jul

Summer in Japan is very 蒸し暑い (“muggy” / hot and humid).

"Beware of heat stroke in the hot summer!"

Florida, where I grew up, is also hot and humid during the summer. But, unlike Japan, I don’t recall any particular traditions of summer in Florida…other than going to the beach.
Actually when I was a teenager in Florida, my friends and I couldn’t get enough of the beach. But, it wasn’t actually the “beach” that we were interested in…we would’ve went to the library—if it was full of girls in bikinis!

Japanese people like to celebrate the uniqueness of the seasons of the year. There are traditions in autumn, winter, spring and summer in Japan.

A few of Japan’s summer traditions are:

Summer festivals and fireworks shows.
Japan has 祭り (festivals) all year round…but there’s an abundance of them in the summer. And in late July to early August, there are many excellent 花火大会 (fireworks shows).
Click here to see my listing of summer festivals in the Tokyo area.

● スイカ割り (“Watermelon smashing”)


This is a Japanese summertime tradition that is similar to Mexico’s piñata. In both traditions, people take turns being blindfolded and try to hit the target with a stick, but in Mexico, the target is a kind of paper doll filled with candy that gets hit until it breaks open, Japan’s スイカ割り (“Watermelon smashing”) has a watermelon as the target. Once the watermelon gets hit and breaks open, everyone enjoys eating it.

● アナゴ (freshwater eel)
Eating eel is believed to give stamina to survive the grueling summer heat.
Click here to read a post that I wrote about it.

蝉 (Cicadas)
Every summer the 蝉 (cicadas) can be heard chirping in Japan. It’s considered one of the sounds of summer.
I wrote this post about the cicada in Japan.

● かき氷 (Shaved ice)

Eating shaved ice with a sweet syrup flavoring is a popular way to people to stay cool in the summer in Japan.
If you want to buy a  かき氷 (Shaved ice) in Japan, you can find them when you see a flag or poster that looks like this:

The character is 「氷」 and means "ice"

● ビアガーデン (“Beer garden”)

In the summertime, many places in Japan offer space to drink beer outdoors (and often on the building’s roof) in the cool night breeze.
Some places offer an “all-you-drink” (within a time limit) special.

●Pools and beaches

Of course, swimming is popular in the summertime in Japan just as it is in Florida.
Pools and beaches in Japan have lifeguards on duty and very few are open year-round.
Most of them are opening around now. Toshimaen, an excellent amusement park / waterslide park / pool in Tokyo opened on weekends only beginning July 2nd this year and will be open everyday from July 16th until September 4th.

What types of traditions does your country have in the summer?

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13 Responses to “What are your country’s summer traditions?”

  1. Sasa July 10, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Oh wow, you have lived in florida before? But it’s true, maybe western culture has no culture in comparison to Japanese or countries that have deep culture roots. But even so, Indonesia has summer all year long, we don’t have any events. ha ha ha So I guess, it’s a very attractive for Japan to have all these summer events. how cool!!
    By the way, I’m in Australia and our culture events are going to the beach, barbies and suntanning while eating fish and chips haha haha

    • tokyo5 July 10, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

      >you have lived in florida before?

      Yes, I grew up there.

      >Indonesia has summer all year long

      That must get tiring! I like having four seasons. Summer’s too hot to have it never end!

      >in Australia…going to the beach, barbies and suntanning

      As I mentioned above, “going to the beach” is popular is both Florida and Japan too.
      But I quit “suntanning” long ago…not good for the skin.
      By “barbies”, I guess you mean BBQ (and not the toy doll ;) ). BBQs are popular in Japan too.

  2. brahdelt July 10, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    I don’t think there are any special Summer traditions in Poland, apart from the beer gardens but they open in the early Spring, as soon as it’s warm enough to sit outside.
    I love the sound of Japanese cicadas, I could listen to them all day long! ~^^~ かき氷 is also nice and refreshing, and watermelon is my all time favourite. I wish I was in Japan this Summer! *^v^*

    • tokyo5 July 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

      >I don’t think there are any special Summer traditions in Poland

      That’s too bad! ;)

      >the beer gardens

      Poland has beer gardens too?

      >open in the early Spring

      You’re lucky!

      >I love the sound of Japanese cicadas

      Have you been to Japan before?

      • brahdelt July 11, 2011 at 1:55 am #

        Yes, I’ve spent one month this year, but in May/June, so no cicadas for me.

      • tokyo5 July 11, 2011 at 2:03 am #

        >one month this year…in May/June

        So, you were recently in Japan? In Tokyo?
        Was it your first time?
        You stayed here a month? It’s a long vacation. Did you see alot of the city?

  3. brahdelt July 11, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    Yes, it was the first time but definitely not the last one! *^v^*
    We’ve been three weeks in Tokyo and one week in Kyoto, although I preferred Tokyo, I guess I’m just the big city girl. We’ve seen a lot but there’s still a lot to see and experience. Strangely it felt like home to me and I wouldn’t mind living in Tokyo permanently, I loved everything about it. I wrote a blog about my trip but it’s only in Polish (http://brahdelt.wordpress.com/), there was no time for a bilingual version, I kept visiting different places during the day and writing a quick post each night, exhausting… ~^^~

    • tokyo5 July 11, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

      >We’ve seen a lot but there’s still a lot to see and experience (in Tokyo)

      Yes, you can’t all of Tokyo in one visit!

      >it felt like home to me and I wouldn’t mind living in Tokyo permanently

      After only three weeks?? Tokyo has become home to me…but I’ve lived here many years already. ;)

      > I wrote a blog about my trip but it’s only in Polish

      I’d like to read it. You should write it in English now!

  4. Yuki July 11, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Hello. Nice to meet you. I have been a big fan of your blog. Your blog is always informative and colorful. But this is the first time to have a comment. Anyway, I’d like to add an important summer tradition of Japan. That is Furin (wind chime). I don’t hung it under the ceiling myself:( But I often here the sounds of the chime from naighbors’ house. Those sounds make me feel cooler!

    • tokyo5 July 11, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

      >I have been a big fan of your blog.

      Thank you very much!

      >But this is the first time to have a comment.

      Please comment often!

      >summer tradition of Japan…Furin (wind chime).

      Oh yes, 風鈴 (wind chimes) are popular in Japan in the summer.

      Thanks for the reminder.

      That reminds me…蚊取線香 (Japanese mosquito coils) are used by many people in Japan during the summer too!

  5. tokyo5 July 15, 2011 at 3:22 am #

    This year, by the way, many 花火大会 (fireworks festivals) will be either scaled back or cancelled…out of respect to the victims of the March 11 disaster.

  6. Kay's Musings July 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    Smashing watermelons! My husband would have a conniption. Seriously! It’s his favorite fruit and so expensive. Wait a blasted minute! It’s even more expensive in Japan! And they’re smashing it? Sheesh!

    • tokyo5 July 15, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

      It’s not a waste of watermelon at all. The melon is put on a clean plastic tarp so the melon doesn’t get sand on it.
      And when it’s hit, it breaks apart in pieces about the size that one would cut if they carved the melon the “conventional” way. So everyone can enjoy a piece or two.

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