We won’t lie to you—summer in Tokyo can be pretty intense. As temperatures soar and the humidity reaches rainforest levels, the city is united in its one goal: staying cool. Luckily, this can be achieved in a number of ways. Some choose the ice-cold beers, steady supply of ice cream and minimal movement option. Others embrace the season, taking advantage of the myriad festivals and events scattered across the city.

Whatever your tactics, we’ve got you covered with our guide to summer in Tokyo. What to wear, what to eat and drink, the best festivals and events, all right here.

Summer weather in Tokyo

From June to September, average temperatures hover at around 25°C (77℉). Averages, however, hide the often far more uncomfortable (and sticky) truth. If you’re in Tokyo for August or September, average temperatures are solidly in the upper 20s and it’s not uncommon for the 30°C mark to be broken. It’s not just the heat either, the humidity is arguably the real killer. At the height of summer, humidity levels can approach an unforgiving 80 percent. Bottom line: it’s really hot.

Suggested Activity
Get Tickets To the Samurai Restaurant in Shinjuku [10% OFF]
Experience one of the craziest, most colorful places in Tokyo — the all-new Samurai Restaurant, from the creators of the Robot Restaurant. Get your tickets and sit back for a wild show of lasers, lights, samurai, dancers and other uniquely Japanese weirdness. ...
Enoshima main beach
Enoshima main beach | Photo by iStock.com/gyro

Rain, however, can be a partial relief. June and September are particularly wet, though the whole season does see a significant amount of rainfall. Typically, summer rain comes in short, sharp bursts rather than a slow drizzle, giving everyone a much-needed cold shower and simultaneously breaking the humidity for a while. Bliss.

How to deal with the heat

It may be tempting to waste the summer indoors, cowering underneath the air conditioning unit. But we won’t let you. We’ve devised a few tricks over the years for beating the heat.

Generally, make sure you’re wearing light, breathable clothing and if you’re going to be out all day, it may be a good idea to take a spare t-shirt or something with you. Take advantage of the free promotional hand fans that are given out on the streets and don’t stop fanning until your wrist aches. Most important of all—drink a lot (I mean a lot) of water and sports/electrolyte drinks.

Summer food and drink in Tokyo

japanese summer foods
Photo by iStock.com/Satoshi-K

Refreshment is the name of the game when it comes to both food and drink in the summer. And what could be more refreshing than ice? Japan’s most persistent summer food is ice, shaved and drenched in flavored syrup and labeled kakigori. This cheap treat can be picked up almost everywhere in the summer months and each one is as refreshing as the last.

Living off kakigori alone probably isn’t the best idea though. Other good food options for the summer include somen noodles, served cold (and again pretty easy to find), as well as the street food (yakitori, takoyaki, yakisoba, etc.) you’ll find at all the summer events and festivals. This stuff is cheap and you can enjoy it out in the open instead of in a sweaty dining room.

You could also turn up the heat with a barbeque. It is the go-to activity for many Tokyoites when the humidity rises. Head to the mountains, rivers and lakes or check out the top inexpensive Tokyo BBQ spots.

As for drinking, two words: beer gardens. Al fresco drinking is the stuff of deepest winter fantasies and Tokyo is well equipped to turn dreams into reality. On rooftops, in parks, at shrines, they pop up everywhere and rarely disappoint. There’s even an option for the super cheapos among you.

Summer events and festivals in Tokyo

Tokyo fireworks festivals

summer fireworks in Tokyo
Photo by iStock.com/Torsakarin

Fireworks (hanabi) festivals are a summer institution in Japan, events that give everyone the opportunity to don their yukata, eat some street food and gaze at the sky for an hour. At the larger festivals, the Sumidagawa Festival, for example, some people make a whole day of it, although the main event only comes to life in the evening. The displays are always impressive and can last upwards of an hour, though it’s the party atmosphere and sense of occasion that tends to make the lasting impression.

Firefly-viewing and festivals

firefly festival tokyo
Photo by iStock.com/Diana Radicchi

In June, just as the summer is revving up, a natural phenomenon that never fails to astound sparks into life—the fireflies. Although urban Tokyo isn’t the greatest place to see the glowing bugs, there are still a good few places where you can check them out.

Summer Sonic

Summer Sonic has quickly become Japan’s premier rock festival—a two- or three-day event that pulls in some of Japan and the world’s top acts and always lively crowds. For all the info on this year’s event, take a look here. And for info on other summer music festivals, see our quick guide.

Suggested Activity
Experience the Traditional Art of Kintsugi
Looking for a totally different experience? Then why not try a kintsugi class in Tokyo? Kintsugi is the revered Japanese art of repairing old pottery. In this one-hour kintsugi workshop, you'll learn the delicate art of gold repair, and create your own unique souvenir to take home. You'll even dress in samue, the outfit traditionally worn by craftsmen. ...

Ueno Summer Festival

The Ueno Summer Festival lasts for a mammoth five weeks between July and August every year. Consisting of all kinds of special performances and events, the festival has something for everyone. The highlight of proceedings is always the colorful Ueno Natsu Matsuri Parade, which features 38 different teams of dancers and is not to be missed.

There’s more …

With so much going on in the summer, we couldn’t possibly list it all here. Do check the Tokyo Cheapo events page, however, where you’ll find detailed listings of absolutely everything that’s worth checking out in the city.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Post first published in May, 2017. Last updated in July, 2019.

Ask our local experts about Tokyo

Get our Tokyo Cheapo Hacks direct to your inbox

Watch this next