Are you looking to visit Japan in summer? You many have heard of how hot and humid Japan is, and this is true in most of the populated areas due to the lower elevations and the fact that many populated areas are in “bowls” surrounded by mountains where the summer heat cannot escape and even nights are not pleasant. But don’t let that stop you from coming to Japan in the summer as the higher elevations and the northern island of Hokkaido offer lower temperatures and beautiful scenery for a great campervan experience.

Here are some places where you can enjoy more favorable temperatures even in mid-summer.

 

Nagano Prefecure: Norikura Kogen / Hakuba / Kamikochi / Utsukushigahara

This author’s favorite area is Nagano Prefecture! Nagano offers a wonderful blend of activities and nature that you can enjoy every season. With mountain peaks exceeding 3,000 meters in the Japan Alps which run through Nagano, there are many places where you can find cooler areas that are accessible by campervan.

  • Norikura Kogen: Located at the southern end of the Northern Alps, this area features a stratovolcano, amazing vistas, spectacular night skies and the highest paved road in Japan at 2,700m, the Norikura Skyline.
  • Hakuba: Hakuba Village in northern Nagano Prefecture is located in the foothills of the majestic Northern Alps. This village attracts many skiers in winter and many tourists in summer as a summer retreat and mountain climbing spot.
  • Kamikochi: Located to the west of Matsumoto City, Kamikochi is a beautiful mountain oasis that can only be reached by the local bus but is well worth the trip. For hiking information visit our Excellent Hikes in Japan blog for more information.
  • Utsukushigahara: This wide-open mountain top plateau, east of Matsumoto City, features cattle grazing areas and less strenuous hiking trails making it the perfect place those who want to enjoy a casual mountain hike. Located at an altitude of around 2000 m, it is cool in summer and offers spectacular views of the mountains. Additionally, there is a roadside station making it a convenient location for spending the night.


Kamikochi

Tochigi Prefecture: Oku-Nikko / Nasu Kogen

  • Oku-Nikko: Located at 1,300 meters, it is a comfortable place to visit in summer without suffering from the humidity. In addition to this area being the home of the highest natural lake in Japan, Lake Chuzenji, there are also wetlands, lakes, waterfalls, rivers, and abundant nature where there are a variety of activities available.
  • Nasu Kogen: In northern Tochigi, Nasu Kogen is a highland that has long been a summer retreat with its cooler temperatures and beautiful scenery. Additionally, this area features farms, zoos, art museums and other activities.


Oku-Nikko Senjogahara wetland

Chiba Prefecture: Kujukuri / Onjuku / Katsuura

  • Kujukuri and Onjuku: If you a looking to spend some time near the ocean, the Pacific side of Chiba Prefectures is a great option as the sea breeze helps make the summer nights a little more comfortable. This area was the venue for the 2021 Olympic surfing competitions, and surfing equipment can be rented and lessons are available for beginners. Both Kujukuri and Onjuku have numerous beaches that are open to the public, so anyone can enjoy the ocean.
  • Katsuura is home to the only aquarium in the Kanto region where you can see killer whales making it a great option espcially if you are with children.

 

Hokkaido: Kushiro / Furano / Shiretoko

Hokkaido is a wonderful destination in summer for not only its cooler temperatures but also its amazing scenery.

Kushiro: The seaside is particularly cool and the average temperature in Kushiro in July and August is low, around 21°C. There are many sightseeing spots such as Kushiro City Zoo, Kushiro Marshland and Tantou Crane Nature Park, making sightseeing easy and enjoyable!

Furano: is a popular place in Hokkaido to enjoy the beauty of nature. Furano is an area famous for the beauty of its flowers, such as lavender and sunflowers. In fact, the lavender in Furano has both early and late blooms, with the early blooms being at their best in early July and the late blooms in mid to late July. Sunflowers can be seen for longer, from July to around October. If you spend time in Furano, you should also visit Asahiyama Zoo. As they are relatively close, you should be able to enjoy both in one trip.

If you visit Asahiyama Zoo in the summer, the ‘Night Zoo’ is a great time to visit, and although it is only held for a few days in August, you can enjoy a different view of the animals than in the daytime. Of course, the daytime zoo is also the best time to see the babies born in spring.

For gourmet food in the area, Furano melons make great souvenirs. Near Asahiyama Zoo is Asahikawa Ramen Village, a collection of delicious Asahikawa ramen shops.


Furano

Shiretoko : , located in the east of Hokkaido, is one of the World Natural Heritage Sites representing not only Hokkaido but also Japan. It is also famous for being the lowest latitude place in the world where seawater freezes over, so some people may have an image of winter.

However, summer is the best season to enjoy the rich natural environment of Shiretoko. Because the area has a unique ecosystem, you can also observe foxes and brown bears, which feed on salmon and seals, coming close to the sea. The Shiretoko Pass and the area around the Shiretoko Five Lakes are ideal for mountaineering and trekking. The area near the Oshinkoshin Falls is rich in negative ions, and the air feels cool even in summer.

For gourmet food, the salmon and salmon roe oyakodon (oyakodon with salmon roe), called ‘tokkishirazu’, which is caught during the summer months, is highly recommended. You can also enjoy gathering fresh seafood and barbecuing it on a brazenly grilled grill.

Shiretoko is also a great place to try venison. You can easily try venison hamburgers or canned venison boiled in curry or stewed in Yamato.

Note: It is not possible to drive to Hokkaido. You must use a ferry with the shortest and cheapest leaving from the northern Aomori Prefecture port town of Oma. There are also ferries leaving from Aomori City, and various other places throughout Japan.

About the Author

Sayuri

I have been travelling by campervan to various areas all over Japan for more than 5 years. My goal is to visit all 47 prefectures in Japan! Just 12 more prefectures to go and I'll have accomplished it! I hope I can share some of information of wonderful places in Japan.

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