Ah, and here we are. My iPhone weather app earlier this week showed me a solid six days of showers and thunderstorms. So far, it’s been about half right – we’ve gotten away with some rather lovely days but the threat of rain is always there. And thus, we come to tsuyu.
Tsuyu is the rainy season, also known as baiyu, though I can’t figure out what parts of Japan prefer one usage over the other. It began last month in Okinawa (though my husband is currently there right now and said there hasn’t been much rain) and, according to the Japan Meteorological Service, it began in Kyushu on the morning of June 2nd. The average starting date for the rest of Japan is between June 4th and June 8th though those of you really averse to the rain should head for Hokkaido. They don’t really have a rainy season. Tsuyu will last until sometime in mid-July, though if memory serves me correctly, it was over long before that last year.
A lot of people can’t stand tsuyu. I myself don’t mind it. For one, it’s a last chance to revel in the cool breezes before summer arrives in full force. (And summer in Japan is no trifling matter.) Kids aren’t on vacation yet so sights are still relatively crowd-free. Yes, you have to contend with umbrellas, wind, possible mold issues in your house and the shoes that constantly have newspaper stuffed in them to dry out, but there are some high points to this season.
Irises – You’ve already seen how much I love these purple beauties. They look even more magical covered in fresh rain drops.
Hydrangea – These bushes seem to burst with color as the mists roll in. Check out Kamakura or Hakone for amazing displays.
Onsen – This is your last chance to it in an onsen in summertime before you feel like you’re cooking yourself. The cool raindrops help regulate an otherwise unbearable experience.
Atmosphere – Want to really make the most of the wet weather? Head for an area that thrives on moisture. A popular choice would be Yakushima (off the southern coast of Kagoshima prefecture) or Mt Koya on the Kii Peninsula.