SUMMER

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During the rainy season in June, irises bloom in Shirokita Park and exotic flowers bloom at the Sakuya Konohana Kan, the Great Conservatory . And many people flock to see the hydrangea at Osaka Castle. These flowers are not quite as dramatic as the cherry blossoms, but they are wonderful sights.

The arrival of summer means Osaka's foremost festival, the Tenjin Matsuri, which is always held on July 24 and 25. One of Japan's three largest festivals, the Tenjin consists of colorful processions of barges on Osaka's rivers, lively performances and bright fireworks displays. The entire city comes alive for this festival, which attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators from the surrounding regions.

For those who prefer quieter celebrations, there are festivals in June that pray for a plentiful rice harvest and in August that welcome the deceased back for a short visit from the netherworld, and in July there are after-dark Noh performances done to the light of burning torches.

All throughout the summer fireworks displays of one kind or another are lighting up the skies over the city, adding to the season's festive atmosphere. And meanwhile neighborhood shrines are holding summer festivals and processions at which Osaka residents joyfully celebrate life as only they can.

Summer in Osaka is hot and humid, similar to the rest of Japan. However, the bay side area offers cool breezes off Osaka Bay, and clean beaches in southern Osaka offer excellent swimming conditions. Cotton clothes and short sleeve shirts are suggested for summer visitors.

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