So you’re going to Japan during rainy season. What a shame is most likely your first thought, spring or autumn would’ve been so much prettier! If it were summer you could go to the beach, see one of the many summer festivals, hear cicadas singing in the trees… If it were winter you might see snow, the onsen would feel great, New Year in another country!
But what does the rainy season have going for it?
Rainy season in Japan is roughly from mid-June to mid-July and is referred to as tsuyu, “plum rain”, because it coincides with the season of plums ripening. Despite its name, the “rainy season” isn’t actually Japan’s rainiest month, that honour goes to September, but there are grey skies most days.
If you booked your tickets during those dates without knowing about the weather or if it is simply the only time you can travel: not all hope is lost. Tsuyu comes with many great things too!
Misterious misty mornings are one of the highlights!
Besides flowers, the mountains, grass, gardens and parks are all very green and lively.
This is also a great time to visit a smaller town or take a train ride through some rural areas, it’s the rice planting season. While most rice planting happens earlier in June, it’s very easy to see the fields full of water and the rice starting to grow. In August the rice is already very tall and it can be hard to see the water in the fields, during other months they are simply dry, but in June and July you can see the reflection of the sky and trees and houses on the water. So beautiful!
June isn’t high season and doesn’t coincide with any big Japanese holidays. You are likely to find accommodations easier, sometimes even cheaper, than other times of the year. Compared to cherry blossom season, when reserving a month in advance may prove quite difficult since many places will be full, especially in Kyoto, it’s good to not have to worry about not finding a place to sleep. Sometimes I’ve even contacted a hostel that same day asking if they had any empty beds and easily found a place to sleep.
When it rains tourists usually prefer indoors’ activities, so often you get to see all the lovely shrines and temples outside with few other visitors or even have the place completely to yourself.
The sun rises early and doesn’t set until much later in the day compared to other seasons (around 6-7pm), so you get plenty of daylight hours too.
Tips for travelling during the rainy season
– Umbrellas can be found at any convenience store as well as many other shops. You can easily buy one once you arrive to the country.
– There are many indoors activities if you really want to avoid the rain. It sometimes pays off to have an alternative itinerary depending on the weather.Well, those are my thoughts and experiences.