If you have been in Tokyo for a full course of the much-acclaimed four Japanese seasons, you already know what awaits you in summer: it’s going to be HOT. Combined with humidity that rivals that of the deep Amazon. Fleeing the city is a natural reaction for many Tokyoites, but what if you are stuck in the capital? Here is a full morning-to-evening itinerary of reasonably priced activities for spending the perfect Tokyo summer weekend.
Make the best of the cooler morning air and get out into nature. A walk in Todoroki Valley close to Shibuya will make you feel like you’ve departed Tokyo and stepped into a Ghibli movie. Here, you will hear the gentle sound of the stream flowing through the ravine as the sunrays pierce the dense, green foliage above.
You are well sheltered from 35 °C+ days while you enjoy the refreshing air. The walk takes about 20-30 minutes and ends at Todoroki Fudo Temple. If you walk down the steps of the temple, the path will lead you through a bamboo forest and finally to a simple park, which is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch break. Get off at Todoroki Station on the Oimachi Line and walk south. Turn right at the first intersection, toward the red bridge, where a small flight of stairs leads down to Todoroki Keikoku. 20 minutes from Shibuya and usually not crowded. Top tip: Bring bug spray!
If you don’t mind a bit of an (air-conditioned!) train ride, forget the picnic and opt for a really fun summer lunch option: nagashi somen. Somen are thin wheat noodles that are enjoyed cold. For the nagashi version, they are sent down a bamboo water slide in ice-cold water to be picked out with chopsticks.
Tokyo’s only nagashi somen restaurant Kisetsu Ryori Funayado (2 Chome-4-2 Kikunodai, Chofu, Tokyo 182-0007, Japan) is located outside the city center in Den-en-Chofu, a five-minute walk from Shibasaki Station on the Keio Line. It takes about 45 minutes to get there from Todoroki. Available from July to mid-September only. Lunch ¥1,600. Reserve a spot beforehand!
Or how about some dessert? Kakigori is a summer staple in Japan. In its simplest form, it is shaved ice with syrup poured on top. But Shimokita Chaen in Shimokitazawa will delight you with their matcha foam-topped kakigori served by Japanese tea sommeliers. Prices start at ¥700. It’s a 5-minute walk from Shimokitazawa Station, on the way back from Todoroki towards the city center.
After a nap or some rest, it’s time to consider your evening plans. Our recommendation: throw on a yukata and go on a traditional summer booze cruise of Tokyo Bay! If you don’t own a yukata yet, you can find some tips on finding one that doesn’t break the bank here.
The Noryosen cruise is only ¥2,600 and those wearing a yukata receive a discount. Includes all-you-can-drink alcohol and soft drinks. Food (mainly fried) is available at kiosks onboard and party plans including food are also available. The audience is on the younger side and parties can get surprisingly wild on the dancefloors of this multi-level ship. Stunning views of the bay and a cool breeze included. Leaves Hinode Pier (3 min. walk from Hinode Station on the Yurikamome Line) daily at 7:15 pm and returns at 9 pm. From June 29 to September 24.
You can also enjoy the stunning views and ocean breeze on foot. Grab some cold drinks from the konbini and go for walk across Tokyo’s most iconic piece of infrastructure, Rainbow Bridge.
To get to the bridge, it’s a 6-minute walk from Shibaurafuto Station East Exit on Yurikamome Line. There are signs guiding you to the bridge, where an elevator takes you from the pedestrian entrance on street level up to the 7th floor. The walk takes about 20-30 minutes and the bridge is open for pedestrians from 9am to 9pm during the summer month. If you don’t want to walk back, you can also take the Yurikamome line back from Odaiba.
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Sleep in, then head to Odaiba for a hearty brunch near the beach: bills and Eggs ‘n Things are two decent dining options that serve waffles, omelettes, and pancakes.
Then, get in the water! SUP (standup paddle) boards can be rented on Odaiba Beach for ¥2,500/2 hours. Alternatively, a 3-hour beginner’s lesson is ¥5,000. Kayaks and windsurf boards are also available.
You can reserve in advance, but with 20 SUP boards on site for rent, the wait is usually short according to the shop, Ehukai Beach. It’s located right in front of Decks Mall, at Odaibakaihinkoen Station on the Yurikamome Line. Open from 10 am to 8 pm. Opening hours may change on the weekend; closed on bad weather days.
Alternatively, simply bring your own picnic to Odaiba beach and enjoy the sun, stunning views of Tokyo and a gentle breeze there for free! Shade is not available on the beach, only under the surrounding trees, so if it is a very hot and sunny day, bring some sunscreen and a hat.
The “chirin-chirin” sound of a Japanese wind chime (fuurin), is synonymous with a gentle, cooling summer breeze in Japan. Spend the afternoon taking this feeling home with you. At Shinohara Maruyoshi Furin, you can blow your own fuurin from glass and paint it after. The experience is ¥2,000 for the glassblowing and painting, or ¥1,500 for just the painting experience.
Email maruyosi[at]sam.hi-ho.ne.jp for a reservation in English. Check their website for varying schedule and opening times (Japanese only).
Or, check out our events calendar for a summer festival somewhere in Tokyo. Look out for free fireworks festivals, Japanese festivals (many have traditional dance performances—like bon odori), or culture festivals (usually take place every weekend at Yoyogi Park) with cheap food and market stalls.
Recommended Tokyo Accommodation
End a weekend of summer fun the traditional Tokyo way: on a rooftop beer garden. The Tokyu Rooftop Premium Beer Garden (found on the roof of the Tokyu Department Store in Shibuya) is one of the most reasonably priced options, starting from ¥3,980 for a set course meal and free-flowing drinks. Open from June 1 to September 9, 2018, from 5pm-10:30pm on weekdays, and from 4pm-10:30pm on holidays and weekends.
Stay at the festival and enjoy a chilled can of beer or a bottle of Ramune (a Japanese soda and summer classic) and some yakitori chicken from one of the food stalls. Find a beer garden-style table and chow down with locals—it doesn’t get more Japanese than this in summer!