Rainy season occurs from the end of May to the end of July in Japan. It sometimes amount to a quarter of the annual rainfall and is dreaded by many. Unpredictable weather, rising heat and humidity… Many people may think it’s wiser to avoid going to Japan during that period of time. However, rainy season can be avoided if you’re in Hokkaido and partially avoided if you’re anywhere else in Japan because rainy season doesn’t mean it’s constantly raining. It’s also possible to experience Japan even when staying inside.
What is “Tsuyu”?
If you live in Japan or if you study Japanese, you’ve probably heard the word “Tsuyu” (梅雨). Tsuyu literally means “plum rain” and refers to rainy season that brings along heat and humidity before Japanese summers start. This expression comes from the fact that, in Japan, rainy season matches plum picking season. Tsuyu generally lasts for 6 weeks, starting around the end of May and ending, depending on regions, towards the end of July.
What does rainy season look like in Japan?
Once rainy season has started, gentle spring weather slowly turns into cloudy, rainy and sometimes pretty windy days. Even though there are still sunny days from time to time, it becomes quite hard to predict weather changes and in a matter of seconds, heavy rain can start even if it wasn’t announced anywhere. Temperatures rise to reach an average of 25ºC~27ºC (77ºF~80ºF) and a humidity level of approximately 75%. The only place that escapes Tsuyu is Hokkaido, as it’s located more in the North and is out of reach for this meteoroligical phenomenon.
July in Japan: what can you do during rainy season?
Many people wonder if July is a right time to come to Japan. Even though rainy season makes the weather quite unpredictable, it doesn’t mean the rain is constant and that Japan lacks activities during that time. Japan has plenty of indoor activities for rainy days with a great deal of museums or artisan shops where you can find typical Japanese objects. It’s also a pretty good time to try out onsen (hot springs), as most of them are indoors or covered. For nature lovers, rainy season comes along with hydrangeas blooming. These flowers are called ajisai (紫陽花) in Japanese and bloom all around the country, giving it blue, violet and white tints.
Akisame, Tsuyu’s little sister
Tsuyu is often mentioned, but have you ever heard of Akisame? It’s written 秋雨 in Japanese and combines the characters for autumn (秋) and rain (雨). This second rainy season, way shorter, usually lasts for two weeks from mid-September to the beginning of October and usually comes with typhoons. It’s said to be a sign of fall coming to Japan.
Dolls to ward off the rain
In order to repel the rain, Japanese people often use “teru teru bozu”, which are small dolls made of a white clothes or paper and which are hung on houses’ windows. They first appeared during Edo period (1603 – 1868) and look like small ghosts. Then a chant is performed to ask the doll to clear the weather the following day, promising it a gold bell and to drink amazake if it doesn’t rain. However, the third verse of the song threatens the doll to cut its head if the rain doesn’t go away. Don’t worry, this third verse is usually left out nowadays.
Come study in Japan!
Japan is beautiful place to visit at any time of the year. If you’d like to study Japanese language in Japan, contact us! SNG, our school, is located in the center of Tokyo, in Shinjuku. We are an education foundation authorized by the Japanese Minister of Education and offer short courses, long courses as well as summer courses for all level of Japanese. If you’re already living in Japan, you can also join our evening and Saturday classes. We’re here to support you at any time. Don’t wait any longer!