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3 things you should see the value of Japanese Summer

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If you ask people around the world when the best time to visit Japan is, they would probably say sprig or autumn. Not too hot, not too cold and not too wet. In some ways this is true Spring has cool weather and you can see the beautiful cherry blossoms. My big boss always comes to Japan from the US for business around April because he wants to see them. And in autumn, the grand colors of Japanese maple trees can be appreciated. 

But if you haven't experienced Japan in the summer time, you are missing out on a fantastic opportunity to truly immerse yourself in Japanese culture.Here are 3 things you can find value in when visiting Japan in the summer.

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1. Modern Bon Dance - YOSAKOI 
Bon Dance (Bon Odori) is a festival held every summer as a reminder of the gratefulness one should feel towards one's ancestors. You can see one of the largest Bon Dances in central Tokyo. During this joyous event you can experience Japanese dance, art, food and drinks. However, I recommend you to see YOSAKOI, which is a traditional Japanese summer dance. I would like to coin it "Modern Bon Dance". 

YOSAKOI is a unique style of dance that originated in Japan. The style of dance is highly energetic, combining traditional Japanese dance movements with modern music and beautiful traditional dress. There are over 200 YOSAKOI Dance festivals each year in Japan. The I first time I saw the YOSAKOI Dance in 2004 in Kanazawa, my home town, I saw an amazing dance performance from the EN team from Hokkaido university. Here is a video team EN's performance (less than 5 minutes). 

 

Team EN reminded me of the Haka dance that the New Zealand rugby team does. Or I feel like I'm watching "so you think you can dance" Japanese style. 

2. Japanese fire art performance - Fireworks 
Summer is fireworks time. Normally, other countries fireworks are launched on special occasions such as New Year's or other national holidays. But Japan's fireworks are held in summer nearly every day across the country, accounting more than 200 during August. The performances that use over 30,000 rounds and can attract easily more than 10,000 spectators! 

Fireworks festivals are very important for Japanese people, just like football, ice hockey and rugby games are for you. Here is one of the best Japanese fire art performances.

   

3. Beer Garden - I coin this phenomenon "Futon Culture" 
Every summer, beer gardens open and dot the city. It is an outdoor beer pub, open for only a limited time during the summer. Go up to the highest outdoor floor you can and throw some tables and chairs out. Beer gardens are one of the fun place to go during Japanese summer. 

However, I think the interesting part of this concept in that it is limited. I coin it "futon culture", as futons should be folded up and put away in the every morning. This frees up space for use during the day After the summer, beer gardens are also put away, then the space is used for other purposes. This is Japan"s elegant, mobile and flexible solution to the inavailability of space I love Futon culture and beer gardens! Here is one Tokyo's top beer gardens  

When you back to work after a vacation during Japan's summer, you will do so refreshed if you experienced these 3 things I recommended. Enjoy summer in Japan!

photo credit: Yohei Yamashita via photopin cc
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