From the beginning of June to mid-July is “tsuyu” Japan’s rainy season. However, it is a misnomer in some ways. Most Japanese agree that the rainy season used to be a far more significant event than it is now, mainly due to global warming. The rain isn’t as heavy or frequent as it used to be. Sometimes it hardly rains at all during the rainy season.
There is a saying in Japanese: Three days rain, four days sunshine. Even if the weather doesn’t follow this pattern anymore, it is still telling of typical rainy season behavior. During the rainy season, you will still have days of sunshine, and when it does rain, it is a very steady rain. It can be heavy at times, sometimes even all day long, but there is usually no wind associated with hard rains during the rainy season.
My first trip to Japan was during the rainy season and it left a lasting impression on me. The foliage was extremely green and fresh and the smell of earth and flowers permeated the air. Snails sauntered along sidewalks while flower petals dripped with moisture. I was touched by the beauty of Japan’s small moments.
The rainy season is also a good season to feel Japan’s strong relationship with the seasons. Walls will be graced with framed paintings of Ajisai flowers (Hydrangea), a symbol of the rainy season. Zen meditation is best performed while listening to the rain fall outside. Japanese gardens have lily ponds that thrive in the rain and frogs express their approval of the rain by croaking all night long.
The downside to the rainy season, besides having to slog through lots of puddles, is the pervasive dampness that allows mold to grow and build up, especially in concrete structures. Wooden structures, such as temples and shrines offer better opportunities to enjoy the atmosphere of the rainy season. Indeed some places, such as Kyoto and Nara, are considered better to visit during a good rain to really soak in the mood. Traditional Japan takes on a romantic and spiritual sense during this season.
Although it is extremely humid during the rainy season, Japan is always humid in the summertime and at least the weather is cooler because there is more cloud cover.
But if you really hate rain, you might want to skip this season altogether, or head to Hokkaido (which has no rainy season) or to Okinawa, where the rainy season is earlier, from May through June.
Yahoo Japan Weather:
Choose the prefecture you’d like the forecast forhttp://weather.yahoo.com/regional/JAXX.html
For the weather-obsessed, see Weather Underground which includes all-Japan maps for temperature, humidity, wind and the jetstream, among others.http://www.wunderground.com/global/Region/i_JP/2xTemperature.html
Amy Chavez is a columnist for The Japan Times. Visit her website at http://www.moooobar.com