The time when it occurs differs from region to region but in general from late May to mid July, you better have a sturdy umbrella and a prevalent attitude prepared for the 2 week war. Japan’s weather is well known for being a bit of a drama queen and the rainy season has always conformed to that belief.
As the name obviously suggests, there will be a lot of heavy rainfall, not everyday but as the rain rests the wind will take its 15 minutes of fame. The temperature will not be too high but the humidity will be present. Essentially during the rainy season you will get the worst of all weathers, you will be running from rain and fighting the invisible wind monsters while modelling a beautiful set of heavy humidity provoked pit stains.
It’s not ideal but no country is perfect and Japan does not deserve to be shunned during this period. As long as you prepare, you can still have an enjoyable time. Here are 10 tips for surviving the Japanese rainy season.
1. Get the gear
You’ve seen some of them, I’m sure, on popular buzzfeed articles such as ‘bizarre Japanese fashion trends’ or ‘unusual Japanese inventions’ but often, these seemingly silly apparel choices were designed and used out of total necessity or ease of living. You can get all sorts of gadgets and equipment that benefit you as you venture out to take on the Japanese rainy season.
A few examples include, ladies high heel work wellingtons, rain coats with built in battery operated fans and even full body umbrellas. You may roll your eyes upon first glance but after living here a while you will eventually only describe them as ingenious as your shudder with envy seeing others walk by so comfortably.
As an added bonus, remember this is the land of kawaii so the rainy season is also an opportunity to stock up on some of the cutest rainwear imaginable.
2. Plan by forecast
This is obvious in any situation, in any climate and in any country but yet as a fully functioning adult, I often find myself far from home getting uncomfortably burnt or wet because I skipped checking the embarrassingly easy to access weather forecast on my phone.
To make this period more bearable, check the forecast before leaving your house. Not a few days before because it will change frequently but most definitely that morning. Remember the more you know about your enemy, the greater your advantage. Being able to prepare for heavy rainfall or plan around strong winds will make for a far less disappointing trip.
3. Stay inside
Again, an obvious tip but when visiting Japan you may be fantasising about seeing the many beautiful temples or castles. You may not be sure how to stay inside and still experience the culture but worry not as there are many fun ways to learn about the country from the dry and refreshingly air conditioned indoors.
Must I remind you of Bill Murray singing his heart out at Karaoke in ‘Lost in Translation’? That could be you! Have you seen, maybe on Buzzfeed again, those incredible yet bizarre colourful arcades where people are intensely good at the games? There are live performances of that daily all over Japan and you will also have the opportunity to partake in the obsession. Spocha is a particularly great place to enjoy these antics and it also has many other floors dedicated to fun activities such as bowling, trampoline rooms and batting cages.
4. Prepare for the heat
Given the title ‘rainy season’ you may misjudge how humid it will actually be and that it is surprisingly, T-shirt weather. It’s going to still be warm no matter where you go, so make sure to dress accordingly, in light and loose clothing.
Unfortunately with the humidity, many insects will also arrive so be sure to have a handy bottle of bug spray in your bag and regularly coat yourself in it, head to toe.
5. Always have spare socks
Inevitably, you will probably get wet and is there anything worse than walking around in soggy socks all day? Truly, it’s a torture I only wish on my worst enemies and sometimes I think I may be going to far by doing so. It has an easy solution though, bring spare socks in your bag and speaking from experience, it might be wise to pack spare, spare socks too.
Otherwise, be on the lookout for ‘Daiso’ or ‘Seria’, these are popular 100yen shops found in Japan, where you can grab some cheap but practical socks on the go.
6. Admire Hydrangea
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There are some nice elements of the rainy season too, of course. One of them being the appearance of beautiful, not often seen, hydrangea around the parks. If you manage to find time between the downpours and wind, it would be smart to take advantage and have a wander around the nearest park to admire these pretty flowers.
7. Try and spot the teru teru bozu
Teru teru bozu are small ghost-like dolls that many homes and nurseries hang out outside their doors as a charm to prevent rain and guarantee sun for tomorrow. Mainly a fun indoor activity to keep kids occupied while the rain pours but also a cute tradition and enjoyable to observe. There are many different origin stories, most of which are quite terrifying but I can’t be certain which to believe. I do appreciate, however, that traditionally the faceless dolls are granted a smiley face should they be successful in preventing the rain or otherwise are destined to remain faceless.
It’s a nice added bonus of being in Japan during the rainy season so be sure to be on the lookout for these adorable, albeit slightly spooky, little dolls.
8. Take advantage of quieter tourist spots
If rain is something that truly doesn’t bother you or you’re simply well equipped for it, then this may, in fact, be the ideal time for you to visit Japan. I often still go for my walks around Osaka castle despite less than perfect weather conditions and enjoying the park to myself is quite a nice experience. This would be especially beneficial in the major tourist spots like Kyoto, where often the large crowds can distract from the incredible sites, so why not venture out and enjoy the rare opportunity to have the world to yourself.
9. Enjoy the comfort foods
RAMEN, rainy weather = the best time to be eating ramen. That’s all I have to say on that one.
10. Escape to Hokkaido
If you truly can not stand the rain and winds, Hokkaido is the place to be as it manages to avoid being hit by the rainy season. Hokkaido offers many fun and exciting things to do, including scenic hiking, impressive parks, markets, onsen towns and some of the most delicious seafood to be found in Japan.
There you have it, absolutely no reason to avoid Japan during this time and honestly, because the buildings are all designed to withstand strong weather conditions, the storms that accompany the rainy season can be pretty impressive and quite the rare experience. If anything, I think I’d even recommend visiting Japan during the rainy season!