Top Things to Do in Nara This Summer
If you are visiting Nara this summer, you are in for a treat; because temperatures are high and the sun is out! Whether you are looking to soak up the sun in Nara Park, go local at a colourful summer festival or simply find some shade, we have you covered with our list of the top Nara picks this summer.
- Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest
- Feeling the heat? Nowhere is cooler than the shady trails through this centuries-old forest. Nature & The Outdoors Nara Park
- Dorogawa Onsen Townscape
- The quaint hot spring town of Dorogawa comes alive in summer when people head to the area for hiking, camping and other outdoor activities. History & Culture Dorogawa Onsen
One of the more unusual sights you can expect to see in Dorogawa during summer is the Shugendo practioner. They dress from head to toe in white, wear bags made from animal skins around their waists and sound conch shells from time to time. They come to Dorogawa in large numbers in summer to practice Shugendo, a form of ascetic mountain Buddhism, and make pilgrimages in the surrounding mountains. Despite their rather unique appearance, they are all very friendly. To book accommodation in Dorogawa during the peak summer season, pay a visit to Nara Visitor Center & Inn where English-speaking staff can call around and check vacancies.
- Mitarai Valley
- Easily reached from Dorogawa Onsen, Mitarai Valley is the perfect spot for some hiking, swimming or riverside picnicking. Nature & The Outdoors Dorogawa Onsen
If you don’t want to venture as far south as Dorogawa and Mitarai Valley, there is some excellent hiking to be had along the Yamanobe-no-Michi, a scenic trail leading through the Japanese countryside. It’s a great way to experience traditional Japan and meet the locals. We recommend starting at Tenri Station where there is clear signage and ending at Ohmiwa Jinja Shrine, in Miwa, Sakurai. The walk usually takes three to four hours, but may take a little longer in summer with more frequent breaks to rest and rehydrate.
- The Yamanobe-no-Michi trail, a section of Japan's oldest road, runs through villages and farms.
- Ohmiwa-jinja Shrine
- The shady grounds at this ancient shrine, dedicated to the god of sake, are the perfect place to escape the heat. After seeing the shrine, pop by a brewery or liquor store to sample some of the local sake. History & Culture Miwa
- The area around Ohmiwa Jinja Shrine isn't just famous for its sake, its also the home of ultra-fine somen noodles. Seved chilled with ice, they are amzing in summer!
Either before or after exploring some of the more further afield areas like Dorogawa and Sakurai, make sure to set aside some time for Nara Park. It’s the best place to spend a leisurely day soaking up the sun. If it gets too hot, you can always cool down at Kasugataisha Shrine. The grounds are huge and offer plenty of shade.
- Kasugataisha Shrine
- As soon as you start up the lantern-lined forest path to the shrine, you will notice a comfortable drop in temperature. Expect to find a few deer enjoying the shade too. History & Culture Nara Park
- If you are still around Nara Park come dusk, head to Ukimido or the top of Mt. Wakakusa for a spectacular summer sunset. History & Culture Nara Park
- Katsuragi Fireworks Display
- Firework displays are held all across Nara through summer. The Katsuragi display is one of the biggest and best. Fireworks Katsuragi
- Ofusa Kannon Wind Chime Festival
- The thousands of wind chimes hung throughout Ofusa Kannon Temple and its grounds make for a sight and sound not to be missed. The festival runs through July and August. Cultural Events Asuka
- Katsuragi Imasuhono Ikazuchi Shrine Summer Festival
- Japan is known for its gorgeous lantern festivals. Find out what all the fuss is about at this one in Katsuragi. Cultural Events Katsuragi
- Dorogawa Gyoja Festival
- Held over two days at the beginning of August, this colourful street festival draws crowds in Dorogawa. Cultural Events Dorogawa Onsen
- Chugen Mantoro Lantern Festival
- Many shrines and temples hold festivals honouring the dead in mid-August. One of the most atmospheric is the lantern festival at Kasugataisha Shrine, which includes traditional dance and music performances. Cultural Events Nara Park
- Heijo Tempyo Summer Festival
- Perhaps one of the most diverse summer events in Nara, the Tempyo Festival features costume parades, traditional dances, light shows, candle illuminations and night markets. Cultural Events Nishinokyo
- Yoshinogawa Fireworks Display
- The wide banks of the Yoshinogawa river make an idyllic setting for fireworks. This one on August 15th in Gojo, is exquisite, with beautiful decorations hung along the riverside and locals fluttering about in cotton yukata. Fireworks Gojo
More Related Reading
7 related lists & stories
Updated: Feb 16 2018
Cherry Blossom Viewing: Nara's Top Spots
Updated: Dec 10 2018
Nara's Best Winter Escapes
Taste This: Nara's Top Sake Spots