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15 Summer spots in and around Tokyo


Summer in Japan. What comes to mind? Other than the heat, there's actually quite a lot of different things associated with summer in Japan. It's the sound of cicadas, paper windmills spinning and shaved-ice signs flying in the summer breeze, wearing yukatas in matsuris (summer festivals), the sounds of furin (wind chimes), fields and fields of sunflowers and more. In spite of the heat, there's so much to do both indoors and outdoors. Here are some spots you can save for the next summer season: 


Sunflowers and Outdoors

Yokosuka Soleil Hill (Mid August)
About 2hrs south on the train from Tokyo is a park filled with sunflowers, alpacas, and a water park. It's very popular for families to spend a day there, enjoying all this park has to offer. Not only is there food, there's also a small amusement area with rides such as ferris wheel and merry-go-round. Since the park is large, you can take a ride on their little steam train shaped shuttle to get from point to point. 

Look out for the super cute alpaca sodas, too! Perfect for the summer weather. 




Oga no Sato Sunflower Field (Yokohama, Jul 22 - Aug 1, 2021)
This is a free sunflower field just a few stops from Yokohama on the Keikyu Main Line. It has 30,000 large sunflowers planted by local elementary school students and the residents. The viewing time is a very short week and a half, so keep an eye out for event details. There isn't an official website, and information is all in Japanese, so the most reliable source is to search on Instagram geotag for "大賀の郷ひまわり畑" (Ōga no sato himawari bata) and click on recents to see if anyone has uploaded information. 
  • Hours: 10am - 5pm 
  • Free entry
  • Closest station: Kamiooka (Keikyu Main Line / Blue Line) 
  • Google Maps code: CH6X+6W

Musashimurayama Sunflower Garden (Jul 3 - Aug 1)
This is a free sunflower garden north of Tachikawa in west Tokyo. The unique thing about this spot is that they have 100,000 sunflowers in 8 breeds. You'll see big ones, small ones, bright yellow and dark orange ones. This one again has a limited timing each year. Information can be easily found in English as this is one of the major sunflower gardens in the area. 
  • Hours: 9am - 5pm
  • FREE entry
  • Access: Tama Monorail, Kami Kitadai Station

Kaisai Rinkai Park (Late July - Late August)
This is a large public park, which is opened for 24hrs a day with free entry. It's on the southeast side of Tokyo just 1 stop from Tokyo Disneyland. Right at the entrance is a large walkway lined with small sunflowers on both sides. If you head west towards the ferris wheel, there are 2 patches of large sunflowers. 



Showa Memorial Park (Late July - August) 
This large park features all kinds of different flowers throughout the seasons. If you head there between July - August, you'll find small and large sunflowers. There's also ice-cream and shaved ice served, as well as a water park for the little ones to play at. 
  • Hours: 9:30am - 6:30pm 
  • Entry: ¥450
  • Station: Nishi-Tachikawa Station 

Yoyogi Park, Cloud Pavilion (Jul 1 - Sep 5, 2021)
This fluffy cloud is part of a total of 9 art installations around Tokyo this summer. Since it is in Yoyogi Park, which is a free public park, there is no entry charge. However the cloud is inflated by air, and it gets deflated after hours. So you'll only see it fluffy between 10am - 6pm. The cloud is right by the entrance of Yoyogi Park near Meiji Jingu/Harajuku station. 


Desserts & Indoors 

Yayoi Kusama Museum, Sunflower room
Near Waseda or Kagurazaka Station on west side Tokyo is the 5-storey Yayoi Kusama Museum. The 4th floor is an interactive sunflower room where you can stick 2D or 3D sunflower stickers onto the wall. Reservations online are required before visiting. 
  • Hours: 11am - 5:30pm (Thur - Sun)
  • Entry: ¥1,200/person 

Sunday Brunch Shimokitazawa
This little 2nd floor cafe/restaurant space is always changing their soda and cake designs depending on the flower in season. Last I visited in May/June, it was Hydrangea themed. And from July - September, the place is covered in sunflowers! They are also very kid friendly, providing high chairs and kids cutlery. Their brunch menu is also delicious, so definitely give that a try, too. 


Parfaiteria Bel 
This i s a bar-type establishment which makes fancy Parfaits, with a bit of alcohol content in them. This on I ordered is called the "Sunflower Mountain". 
  • Branches: Shinjuku Sanchome (Exit C5), Shibuya (South Exit)
  • Hours: 2-8pm (Weekends 12-8pm)
  • Prices: ¥1,700+

Old House Cafe Rengetsu 
On the south end of Tokyo, near Ikegami station is this old 2-floor house (est. 1927) converted into a cafe. They serve lunch menu items, but most importantly they have delicious shaved ice! This is a very popular place, so it fills up almost immediately after opening even on weekdays. The 2-floor is an open space with tatami floors, so it's very popular for families with babies and young children since they can crawl freely. They also have an outdoor garden seating area with Hydrangeas. 
  • Hours: 11:30am - 6pm (Closed Tue/Wed)
  • Shaved ice: ¥950 each


Kagurazaka Saryo 
If you're looking for a fancy spot with a view to accompany your shaved-ice experience, this is your spot. This restaurant is on the 14/F of Scramble Square Shibuya. Lunch time lines can be as long as 30mins, but if you get lucky and get seated at a window spot, you can see the Yamanote train lines running right by the Shibuya crossing. I had the summer time limited "Red Fuji" and also a super delicious salmon rice lunch set. 
  • Hours: 10am - 8pm 
  • Where: Shibuya Scramble Square 14/F
  • Prices: Red Fuji shaved-ice ¥1,500, lunch set ¥1,100+


Goldfish themed snacks (Eco Edo Nihonbashi, 7/16 - 9/12)
The group of stores in Nihonbashi area teamed up for a summer festival like event, promoting different summer themed goods and snacks. The event can be found searching "Eco Edo Nihonbashi Summer Festival". This is an annual event, so you'll be able to find it again next year as well. 

(Left) The Mandarin Oriental Gourmet Shop "Goldfish bowl jelly dessert" is ¥972
(Right) Bunmeido Cafe "Goldfish cream soda" is ¥800

 

Shrines and Temples

Tanashi Jinja
This shrine has been the talk of the summer for their colorful walkway of Teru-Teru Bozu (Japanese rain-prevention dolls). From end of July to September, they also have sunflowers filled in their Chozuya (hand washing basin). There's also a pop-up stall serving coffee and shaved-ice! There's also Omikuji (Fortune paper) filled in fish shaped figurines. Though a bit far (west end of Tokyo), it's definitely a spot with plenty to do. 

 


Koshigaya Katori Shrine (Saitama)
Here's another shrine, a bit far up North, however it has so much on display, from a tunnel of lanterns and wind chimes, to spinning windmills, and goldfish lanterns. In August, their Chozuya is filled with colorful water balloons, another icon of a Japanese summer. 



Horinji Temple
Closer to city center, near Waseda station is this temple with a year-round gorgeous Chozuya. Not only do they have flowers, they also have wind-chimes on top. There's also bowls of flowers throughout the temple grounds. The young monk runs their instagram account @hourinji, and he also has a Youtube channel which showcases different tasks he does. He hand draws and designs the monthly/seasonal goshuin (Temple seal) and is also very diligent on updating the flowers. To see what's currently on display and when the next change of flowers is, take a look at the instagram account. 


Nogi Shrine
In Roppongi area next to Tokyo Midtown is Nogi Shrine. They have spinning windmills, windchimes in the hallway, and also sunflowers in their chozuya. As of September 5th, it is still currently on display. 




We all know Cherry Blossoms in Spring, Momiji in Autumn, and Japan's superb snowboarding/skiing spots in Winter. But there is so much to do in summer as well. If you ever get the chance to visit Tokyo in summer, please consider making memories with all the sunflowers, goldish, windchimes, Kakigori (shaved ice), summer festivals and so on. Then you'd experience the true authentic Japanese summer. 



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