Jun. 21, 2017
It is commonly known that Japan’s rainy season is from June to July, though it differs from region to region. It is a humid season with frequent showers, but it doesn’t rain cats and dogs all the time. It includes even a lot of sunny days. This sounds OK, but actually it is a little troublesome. Due to the unstable weather conditions, you have to prepare for the rain at any time. When you go out, it is best to wear layers, or bring some clothing options, just in case the weather changes suddenly.
This rainy season is called ‘tsuyu‘ or ‘baiu‘ in Japanese. Both mean ‘rain of ume fruit’. Ume fruit is known as Japanese apricot. There are various views regarding why it is called so. Some say that is because this season coincides with the ripening of ume fruit. Ume fruit actually ripens around June and July in many regions in Japan, so I guess this is true. Another view is that the long spell of rainy weather causes mold growth, so at first people named it ‘baiu‘, meaning ‘rain of mold’, but it sounded so badly that they changed its meaning to ‘rain of ume fruit’. (Both ‘mold’ and ‘ume fruit’ can sound ‘bai‘ and ‘rain’ sounds ‘u‘ in Chinese characters (kanji) in Japan.) High humidity causes mold, so this idea seems true, too. What I’d like to say is that the names of this season describe itself well. This is the season of ume fruit and mold, actually.
During the humid season, laundry won’t dry well. Sometimes you can see a laundry detergent advertisement on TV, saying “This detergent prevents the musty smell.” Many people open the windows to air out their houses when it is not rainy, and handle food with care for prevention of food poisoning.
Maybe you don’t like this troublesome season, right? Me neither. However, it is not all bad actually. The rain is essential for rice cultivation. Thanks to the rain, you can eat delicious rice in Japan. Also, you can see pretty hydrangeas all over Japan in June. Many Japanese people associate the rainy season with hydrangeas that are beautiful especially in the rain. Moreover, women can be happy in June because June Bride is popular in Japan, as well as in America and European countries.
Nevertheless, there are those who do not like this season. If you’d rather avoid the rainy season, Hokkaido is a good place to visit even in June and July. Hokkaido is the northernmost region in Japan and it doesn’t rain so much. The weather is not perfect, but nicer than in most other regions. There are many places to visit and delicious food such as seafood, milk, cheese and vegetables!
By Meg Konishi (Find Your Japan)