Summer in Japan is often described as "scorching". The hottest months are from the end of the rainy season through to September, with daytime temperatures exceeding 30 degrees. There's also a lot of humidity due to the Pacific High pressure system, which means a damp and sticky heat. But that's not the situation in the whole of Japan. In fact, there are many summer resorts surrounded by nature where you can escape from the heat. Join us as we tour the special resort neighborhoods where you can enjoy beautiful scenery and a cool, comfortable summer.

    1

    Furano, Hokkaido

    Furano is one of Hokkaido's most famous summer resorts. Its charms are difficult to sum up in a single word, but the first thing on your list should be Shikisai no Oka, a beautiful flower garden set on rolling hills with patterned rows of colorful flowers. There are flowers in bloom every season, including sunflowers in summertime, and you can even tour the field on a tractor bus or drive your own buggy or cart. Shirogane Blue Pond is another common sight in photographs of Furano. Located between Biei Station and Shirogane Onsen, its color changes depending on the season, time and weather, and its unusual tones of blue make it a popular tourist destination. Furano has many other attractions too, including Unkai Terrace, Furano Cheese Factory, and Shirahige Waterfall. If you're visiting to escape the summer heat, take a little extra time if possible and explore a little. There are plenty of fascinating places throughout this area.

    Location: Nakafurano-cho, Sorachi District, Hokkaido 071-0700, Japan

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    2

    Lake Toya, Hokkaido

    Lake Toya in Hokkaido is the 9th largest lake in Japan. This popular summer resort has excellent views of Mt. Showa-shinzan, Mt. Usu, and Mt. Yotei, and on the southwestern shore you'll find Lake Toya Onsen as well as inns and hotels. You can climb Mt. Usu to look down on Lake Toya from above, but make sure you also take a cruise across the lake to experience the refreshing breeze. There are also many pleasure boats offering trips to the four uninhabited islands in the middle of the lake. The only place on Oshima (the main island) where you can disembark is at Toyako Forest Museum, where you can enjoy forest bathing. And after taking a cruise, why not go for a walk along the lakeside promenade? There are many designated scenic spots here, so dive right in and have a great time.

    Location: Toyako Town, Abuta District and Sobetsu Town, Usu District, Hokkaido, Japan

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    photo by 663highland (CC BY 2.5) modified

    3

    Hakodate, Hokkaido

    Hakodate has been repeatedly selected as "the most attractive town in Japan". Ever since the opening of Hakodate Port in 1859, the town quickly started incorporating Western culture, and now the townscape is completely retro and has its own unique atmosphere. You can get a glimpse of Hakodate's history at Hakodate Meijikan and Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse. When evening falls, take the Hakodateyama Ropeway to the summit of Mt. Hakodate and gaze out at the spectacular jewel-studded night view of the town. The breathtaking scenery here is rightly said to be one of the "three major night views in the world". Other must-sees include Choshi Beach, which is popular with surfers, the old hot spring town of Yunokawa, and Hakodate Morning Market where you can enjoy the fresh flavors of each season.

    Location: Hakodate City, Hokkaido, Japan

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    photo by Perry Li (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    4

    Lake Towada & Oirase Gorge, Aomori Prefecture

    Top of the list of Aomori Prefecture's famous summer resorts is Lake Towada & Oirase Gorge. Lake Towada is a caldera lake, which means there was an eruption that produced a depression in which rainwater accumulated over time. People are endlessly fascinated by the beautiful cobalt blue water of this lake. The surrounding area is filled with impressive trees, varying from deep green to golden autumn leaves as the seasons change. And then there's Oirase Gorge, a mountain stream created by the river flowing from Lake Towada, which has been designated as a national scenic spot and a natural monument. There are roadways and promenades alongside the mountain stream, so you can stroll through the tunnels of trees and feel the power of the waterfall while listening to the murmuring of the river. This cool mountain stream is the perfect place to chill out in summer.

    Location: Oaza-Okuse, Towada City, Aomori Prefecture, Japan

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    5

    Kusatsu Onsen, Gunma Prefecture

    Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma Prefecture is one of Japan's leading hot springs. The powerful bactericidal sources that gush forth throughout the town are so effective that it's said they can cure anything apart from someone who is lovesick! This is a very popular tourist destination where you can visit hot springs for free and relax at the fashionable cafes and hotels in the area. Winter is often thought of as the best season for visiting hot springs, but actually we recommend summer too. There's no snow in the summer in Kusatsu, so it's easy to get to the sightseeing attractions, and the maximum temperature is a cool and refreshing 18 degrees. Kusatsu is also blessed with hiking trails in places such as Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane, so you can enjoy walks in the great outdoors while you're here. Take a break and relax in an open-air bath surrounded by the lush greenery of Kusatsu Onsen.

    Location: Oaza-Kusatsu, Kusatsu, Agatsuma-gun, Gunma Prefecture 377-1711, Japan

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    6

    Kamikochi, Nagano Prefecture

    Kamikochi is famous both as a tourist destination and as an area for nature-lovers. In fact, it's been designated as a special scenic spot and a special natural monument because of the beauty of the scenery and the magnificent natural environment. Only Kurobe Gorge and Kamikochi in Toyama Prefecture have been given these two titles at the same time, so you can see how rare they are. Kamikochi in summer has a comfortable climate, making this the best season to visit various places in the area. Among the many attractions, Kappa Bridge is not to be missed. From this wooden suspension bridge, you can look out over the clear waters of Katsura River and the picture-perfect landscape of the Hotaka mountain range and Mt. Yake. Also, be sure to stop by Taisho Pond, which is about 4 km from Kappa Bridge and can be reached by hiking. Its mysterious scenery makes it a popular spot that is frequently featured in the media.

    Location: Azumi-Kamikochi, Nagano Prefecture, Japan

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    photo by 663highland (CC BY 2.5) modified

    7

    Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture

    Hakone, which is famous for its hot springs, is also known as a summer resort where you can spend your time in comfortable temperatures. Located in the mountains, Hakone has an altitude of 108 meters in Hakone Yumoto and 553 meters in the vicinity of Gora, which ensures that temperatures stay cool throughout the summer. If you're feeling active in the summer months, how about a hike to Sengokuhara or a pleasure boat cruise on Lake Ashi? Sengokuhara is a plateau at an altitude of 700 meters that spreads out at the foot of Mt. Ashigara and is one of the very best places in Hakone for natural scenery. There are also many cafes and museums in the area. At Lake Ashi, you can forget about the heat of summer by taking a trip on a pleasure boat or pirate boat through the refreshing breeze. Hakone is also hugely popular as a place to take photos of Mt. Fuji, so get ready to take some awesome snaps.

    Location: Ashigarashimo-gun, Hakone-cho, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan

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    8

    Nasu Plateau, Tochigi Prefecture

    Nasu Plateau is a popular resort that's easily accessible from the city centre. Surrounded by lush dark greenery, there are many spots that everyone from children to grown-ups can enjoy. At Minamigaoka Ranch, you can go horse-riding or get close to animals at the Animal Fureai Hiroba, and you can even try your hand at trout fishing or making ice cream using fresh milk from the ranch. Over at Small Green Interior Ashiya, you can go hands-on and make your own mini bonsai, moss balls, and moss terrariums, which are perfect as souvenirs. And then there's Mt. Nasu (also known as Mt. Chausu) in the Nasu mountain range that surrounds Nasu Plateau, where you can enjoy the scenery along the way up to the 9th station on the Nasu Ropeway. After climbing for about 30 minutes on foot to get to the last station, and working up a bit of a sweat, your reward is an exception view looking out over Nasu Plateau from the peak at about 1,915 meters above sea level.

    Location: Nasu Town, Nasu District, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

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    photo by 那須岳 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    9

    Okutama, Tokyo

    Okutama is an easily accessible sightseeing area located about 2 and a half hours by train or bus from central Tokyo. This place is full of amazing nature with mountains, rivers, lakes and canyons, making it hard to believe that you're actually still in Tokyo. Lake Okutama is an artificial lake formed by Okochi Dam diverting the waters of Tama River, but it's surrounded by mountains and you can enjoy the scenery of the four seasons in vivid color. If you're brave or looking for a thrill, take a walk across the "drum can bridge" that sways in the water as you walk from one side to the other. At the three main waterfalls of Umezawa - Mitsukamanotaki, Nejirenotaki, and Otaki - you can enjoy unique falls that are the highlights of Okutama. Mt. Mito is one of the three mountains in Okutama, along with Mt. Gozen and Mt. Odake. Even beginners can climb Mt. Mito, and Mt. Fuji and Mt. Kumotori can be seen from the top, so naturally it's very popular.

    Location: Okutama Town, Nishitama District, Tokyo, Japan

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    photo by Guilhem Vellut (CC BY 2.0) modified

    10

    Mt. Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture

    Mt. Aso is actually a general term that encompasses Mt. Takadake, Mt. Neko, Mt. Nakadake, Mt. Karasuhata, and the 5 Aso peaks and somma volcano of Mt. Kishima. However, for most people Mt. Aso brings to mind images of the Nakadake crater. This is a very popular destination for visitors who want to get a sense of the power of nature. You'll understand why when you see the lava wall of the crater and the violently blowing smoke and experience the rumbling of the ground below. On the other hand, Kusa Senri, the crater site of the Senrigahama volcano, is a very calm and beautiful landscape with green grass. There are also cattle grazing on the grassland and other features that make this site popular with families and groups. The vast Mt. Aso area includes many other must-see attractions in addition to craters such as Kusa Senri. It's such an idyllic place to spend the summer and it's convenient too, with campgrounds, sports activity facilities, and beautiful flower displays at Chojugaoka Park and Sensuikyo Gorge.

    Location: Aso City, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan

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