|Tanabata at Shitennoji|
But it's also the season for matsuri (festivals). Osaka has three huge festivals every summer, Aizen Festival, Tenjin Festival and Sumiyoshi Festival, but you're sure to find local festivals at temples and shrines throughout the city and throughout Kansai.
Aizen FestivalJune 30 - July 2
This is known as the first major festival of the summer in Osaka. It's held in Tennoji Ward at the Aizen Temple at the beginning of July. There are no big displays like fireworks, but there is a parade and a chance to get a love charm from participants in the Aizen Pageant. Although this is a well-known festival, the temple groundss are quite small, leaving most attendees to wander through the maze of street stalls along Tanimachi street.
Tanabata FestivalSecond Week of July
About a week or so after Aizen, a Tanabata Festival is held at Shitennoji Temple, also in Tennoji Ward. This is a fairly local event, but many news outlets visit for the tunnel of light made from bamboo. You also have the chance to write your wishes on tanzaku that can be hung in the tunnel. This festival has your traditional food and game stalls, but also its own unique bit of a fun. This year, the local astronomer's society brought out several telescopes so that guests could look at Orihime and Hikoboashi (Vega and Altair respectively), as well as some of the other planets that were out that evening. We got to see Mars and Jupiter, which was quite rare, or so we were told.
There are other, more famous Tanabata festivals in Japan, but if you're in Osaka in July, definitely check this one out.
Tenjin FestivalJuly 25
I ran into this festival my first year in Osaka, and I have to admit, I haven't bothered to go back. It is Osaka's biggest festival, which means the crowds are damn-near dangerous. It originates at the Tenman-gu Shinto shrine, located in the Tenjinbashi area, but a lot of the activity takes place in the shopping arcade and at the river nearby. Fireworks for the festival are displayed along the river, so there are a plethora of river cruises for this time of year, starting at close to 200 USD. You can enjoy the fireworks from the riverbanks as well, but considering the number of people that attend, I would suggest that you get there early if you want a nice spot (you can also buy a seat from a Japanese travel agency or an English travel agency).
You can find more information on their official website. While it does have an 'English' button at the top of the page, this only seems to activate an auto-translation function. If you have any questions, though, feel free to ask or check out more info on Osaka's travel website.
Sumiyoshi FestivalJuly 30 - August 1
The third of the 3 major Osakan Summer Festivals is the Sumiyoshi Festival. Also based at a Shinto shrine, Sumiyoshi Taisha (Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine), the main Sumiyoshi shrine of all the Sumiyoshi shrines in Japan. On the 30th and 31st, you can participate in a purification ritual while the mikoshi is brought out on August 1st and taken to Sakai. This is a festival I've never attended as it is quite far from my house, but I'm quite interested and might give it a try this year.
I have been to the shrine before; the gardens are beautiful and the area around the shrine quiet, so I am interested in how lively things get during the festival. You can check out more information on the festival at the shrine's official website. However, this information is only available in Japanese. For English information, check out Osaka's travel website.