Today’s theme is “Japanese customs in summer”. Japan has four distinct seasons, and each season has its unique customs. Summer, one of the most popular seasons in Japan, also has characteristics and interesting traditions. In this article, you can see unique Japanese customs in summer.
Customs in summer
In this section, you can experience Japanese summer through food customs and living cultures. As you may know, it is very hot in summer in Japan, so Japanese summer customs are based on the idea; of “how to spend healthy and comfortable days even in a hot climate.” Then, let’s look into some Japanese summer customs!
- “Suika” (water melon)
Speaking of Japanese summer, the most impressive and popular food is Suika, watermelon in English. This is a spherical fruit about 30 cm in diameter, and its green-black striped pattern makes it a unique one. people share it by cutting it small and enjoying this sweet and fresh fruit. You will feel cooler when you enjoy Suika with your family or friends. As it is so popular, you can see Suika in poster cards or posters as a symbol of summer!
This is a noodle you can enjoy in summer. You may know Soba or Udon as a Japanese noodle, but this is a different one from these others. Somen’s uniqueness is their slenderness. When you eat it, you will feel cooler with its slender and cold noodles. Also, you can customize your own Somen by adding your favorite spices or vegetables. You can enjoy it basically with Dashi soup, but if you feel unsatisfied with that, you can eat it with Seaweed, sesame, Wasabi (one Japanese spice), tomatoes, or other vegetables.
- “Kaki-Gori” (shaved ice)
The last one is Kaki-Gori, and its English name is shaved ice. You may be surprised at Japanese customs of just eating ice as food. Japanese people do not just eat shaved ice but enjoy it with several flavors. For example, you can enjoy flavors such as Strawberry, Lemon, or condensed milk. Additionally, you can add other sweets to the shaved ice, such as ice cream, soy paste, and so on. This sweet is very popular, especially among children.
- “Obon” vacation
In Japan, many people take vacations around the middle of August. This short holiday is called “Obon”. Traditionally, Obon is a vacation period that welcomes the spirits of ancestors and holds memorial services. For this culture, Japanese people take a vacation and go back to their family’s home to hold memorial services for their ancestors. Today, Obon is the second major vacation after the new year, and people enjoy spending time with their parents or family.
- “Radio Taiso” (Radio Exercise)
You will not be sure what this “Radio Taiso” means. This is an exercise with the music from the radio which begins at 7 o’clock AM every weekday. When the time has come, children gather in the park and exercise with their friends. You may not understand why Japanese people wake up early in the morning just to do exercise. The reason is to maintain the children’s life cycle during summer vacation. In July and August, children enjoy summer vacations and don’t go to school. Then, their lifecycle can be disrupted easily. For avoiding life cycle disruption, they make Radio Exercise events and enjoy exercise, and now it is a symbol of Summer.
Yukata is unique Japanese clothing, which is different from Kimono. Japanese people often wear it at summer festivals or fireworks displays. Originally, it was clothing people used after taking a bath, just like pajamas. Now it is a symbolic item of summer festivals, and Japanese people enjoy its beautiful and cute patterns. If you come to Japan, why don’t you try it and take the best shot with Yukata?
Leisure Activity in Summer
In this section, you can see major leisure activities in the summer in Japan. Speaking of summer leisure, you may imagine marine sports. However, Japanese leisure is not only marine activities. Let’s look into it!
- Summer festivals
One of the most popular events in Japan is the summer festival. This is held in many cities or towns in Japan, and they have their unique style of festivals. You can enjoy eating or playing games in roadside booths, such as “shaved ice shop”, “fried chicken shops” or “shooting game corners”. Additionally, you can enjoy “Bon Odori” dancing there. This is one kind of Japanese folk dance. People surround the watchtower and dance with friends.
- “Hanabi” (fireworks)
Hanabi is the Japanese word that means fireworks. You may assume that fireworks are the art of the sky which you can see on anniversaries or some events. Of course in Japan, you can also enjoy watching fireworks in the sky, and it is so beautiful. However, Japanese people also enjoy another type of Hanabi; sparkle type. Sparkle is also called Hanabi in Japanese, and it is as popular as fireworks in Japan. In ordinary parks or beaches, you can enjoy it with your friends. It will become a good memory for you.
- “Suika Wari” (watermelon spliting game)
This is a unique game in Japan played mainly on beaches; watermelon splitting game in English. In this game, a player tries to split a watermelon by beating it with a stick, and its unique point is that the player cannot see anything with a blindfold. Then, the other audience indicates the direction of the watermelon to the player by saying “left side!” or “behind you!”. After splitting the watermelon, they will eat it together on the beach. If you visit a beach in Japan, you may find some people playing it!
Here are the Japanese unique cultures or traditions in summer. If you visit Japan someday, why don’t you see or try some of these activities?