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Colourful Japan in June

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When is a good time to visit Japan? Consider planning your trip during the shoulder season in the month of June – you’ll generally see fewer crowds, avoid the high travel prices from Golden Week, a national holiday period usually lasting a week in May, and enjoy the balmy weather before things get truly scorching in July. Here’s a look at some of the best experiences in Japan during the month of June.

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Admire Hydrangea blooms at the temple

The rains of June bring with it blooming hydrangeas or ajisai, and while you can view it several places around Japan, one of the most beautiful viewing spots and easiest to get to from Tokyo is Meigetsuin Temple. Nicknamed the Ajisaidera or Hydrangea Temple, you can find thousands of white, blue and purple hydrangeas flowering all over the temple grounds. This is a prime time to visit as the temple is only open for two periods in a year: during Hydrangea season and in autumn when the leaves turn orange.

Hydrangea generally blooms throughout the month of June peaking in the middle of the month, but if you come in early June, you may also catch the Japanese iris or hanashobu in bloom around the temple’s lake alongside the ajisai.

Location: Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture
Dates: June. Look out for updates here
Opening Hours: 830am-5pm
Cost: 500 JPY in June

Last chance to walk through a giant corridor of snow

Ever wondered what it’s like to be buried in snow? Experience that feeling in the Yuki no Otani with the Snow Wall Walk, a road flanked by impossibly high walls of snow of up to 20m piled on either side forming a narrow corridor of snow. This incredible sight is just one part of the spectacular treks and scenery along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route located up in the Japan Alps also known as the ‘Roof of Japan’ stretching across the mountains of Nagano and Toyama prefectures. 

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is closed in winter and opens from mid-April to November. The Snow Wall Walk is painstakingly carved over months by snowploughs and June is the last chance to experience it before the warmer temperatures melt the snow away.

Location: Murodo, Toyama Prefecture
Dates: 2020 Snow Wall Festival is open from 15 April – 22 June – details here
Opening Hours: 930am – 3pm
Cost: Free

Photograph the flooded Hoshitoge Rice Fields

Layers of terraced rice paddies make for some of the prettiest postcards, and Hoshitoge is a favourite for any photography enthusiast with over 200 terraces spread out over the hillside. While you get picturesque views any time of the year, June is an especially popular month because the rice paddies are flooded, resulting in some amazing colours from the pools of water reflecting the sky.

Dawn and sunset see the most human traffic but do note that these rice terraces are private property though you can view them from the roadside. You will need a car or taxi to get there as it is 20mins drive away from the nearest Matsudai Train Station.

Location: Hoshitoge, Tokamachi, Niigata Prefecture
Dates: June
Cost: Free

Ride a double-decker gondola at the Shinhotaka ropeway

Photo credit: ©JNTO

Japan has many beautiful ropeways, but the Shinhotaka Ropeway stands out for its unusual double-decker design, the first of its kind in Japan. Located in the Hotake mountain range of the Japanese Alps, the Shinhotaka ropeway climbs more than 1,000m over two sections to an observation deck that offers some panoramic vistas of the surrounding Okuhida Region and the Kamikochi Valley. 

The snow in the mountains here typically melts away towards the latter half of June, revealing rolling green slopes and also opens up more advanced trekking options around the peak Ropeway station to the mountain ridge that are not accessible earlier in the year.

Location: Takayama, Gifu Prefecture
Dates: Shinhotaka Ropeway is open throughout the year. See this page for more details on seasonal events.
Opening Hours: 830am – 445pm
Cost: A roundtrip adult ticket for both sections costs 2,900 JPY (S$36). More details on pricing here.

Visit the karst plains in the Akiyoshidai Plateau

For a landscape unlike anything else in Japan, visit the Akiyoshidai Plateau in Yamaguchi on the western end of Chugoku. It has the highest concentration of limestone pillars found in Japan, and is a spectacular sight no matter what season you visit – June gives you vistas of brilliant green fields littered with grey karst. Rent a bicycle to cycle around and enjoy the scenery.

Also found here is the Akiyoshido Cave, the longest subterranean cave in Japan measuring around 9km in length, though only about 1km is open to the public.

Location: Mine City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Dates: Akiyoshidai and Akiyoshido are open throughout the year
Opening Hours: Akiyoshido Cave hours are from 830am – 530pm. Details here
Cost: Entrance to Akiyoshido Cave costs 1,300 JPY (S$16). Bicycle rental 1,000-2000 JPY (S$12-25)

Get up close with Japan’s oldest living trees

Off the southern coast of Kyushu is a subtropical island called Yakushima, home to a protected ancient cedar forest and some of Japan’s oldest living trees. Known as Yakusugi, these ancient cedars can be more than a  thousand years old, with the oldest tree Jomonsugi estimated to be anywhere between 2,000-7,000 years old. This island that inspired the backdrop of the Studio Ghibli Princess Mononoke animation is also one of the wettest places in Japan with rainfall almost every day.

While May is considered the best time to visit, June is better for those who prefer fewer crowds overall, especially because July sees a marked increase in human traffic.

Location: Yakushima can be reached via high speed boat from Kagoshima or by plane from Kagoshima, Fukuoka and Osaka
Cost: Round-trip ferry tickets cost 15,000 JPY (S$190), and non-discounted plane tickets range from 16,000-39,000 JPY (S$200-490) depending on airport

Dive into Kerama Blue in Okinawa

Okinawa’s Kerama Island cluster has blue seas so distinctive that the colour has its own name – Kerama Blue. Furuzamami Beach on Zamami Island and Aharen Beach on Tokashiki Island have been voted some of the most beautiful beaches in Japan and their crystal clear waters are popular for water activities like snorkelling and scuba diving. 

June is a great time to soak in the Kerama Blue as the rainy season tends to end in mid-June for Okinawa and you have a nice window before peak beach season and the crowds arrive in July. It is also turtle season and you might spot them laying their eggs on the beaches of Zamami Island.

Location: Kerama Islands, Okinawa Prefecture
Cost: Beach access is free, but you will have to pay a fee if you want to rent a deckchair and umbrella

Colourful experiences can be found in every corner of Japan, the problem is finding enough time to see all of them. Also, cheaper flights are available during the shoulder season of June – check out some of the cheap flight deals to Japan currently available on Skyscanner, or here