The Plum Season!
What to do in Japan when it rains...
June and July is the season of the "plum rain" in Japan. The start of the season is much expected and advertised by the weather report. The plum rain front has reached Okinawa... they say with a very dark voice. And suddenly, it pours cats and dogs in Tokyo. There is no plum-rain in Hokkaido.
When I first came to Japan, I wondered why the rainy season was called was the plum rain. I first thought it was because the drops were so big that they had the size of plums. Then, I thought, no, of course not. It is because the falling rain sounds like plums... Of cooooouuuuurse, this is all wrong. Though Japanese is a very poetic language, the reason is much more prosaic: it is because there are plums in trees in this season...
So, what can you do during the plum rain season? (tsuyu, or baiyu, by the way).
The good news is that, yes, it does rain a lot, but it is not cold, nor too hot yet. It is just right... so,
...Well, you can do a lot of things. First, discover temple and shrines during rainy time is a new discovery of the Japanese minds who builded these sites. Be it shiny or rainy, they have their own particular beauty for you to discover.
You can also visit Kamakura as senpai Ruth suggests or any other place where they grow ajisai (hortensia in French). The color of the petals fades with the rain so you can enjoy various stage of these beautiful and huge flowers. Early June, they are still vividly colored but by the end of June, they will be white...
You can also decide to gear up like a Japanese, which will make shopping a real fun. Try to find some 3 coins shops unless you have Mary Poppins' purse.
The first gear is to get yourself an umbrella. Every shop sell them as soon as there is one drop of rain. you can get a plastic transparent one, or a fancy one. big ones or telescopic ones. There are umbrellas for all tastes here. But to use it like a Japanese, you need to learn to fold it properly back.
They even have small drying poach for their umbrellas. It looks like a funny microfiber pocket in which you insert your umbrella and you do not wet the flooring while keeping yourself all elegant...
You can also get plastic shoes. You find plastic shoes with a loose trimming and a lot of wholes, boots of every color or with grass design... Well, getting the plastic boots is a big leap toward Japanesehood. I have not yet tried it. But if you do, you sure will look the real part. You can also choose to use sandals with naked feet. They will get soaked but not cold.
I always wanted to get a shower cap for my hat, like every police men in town. I think it is neat to be able to protect your hat like that. But I have not yet tried it yet. Well, I do not have any hat either.
There are also a huge choice of raincoats and if you insist, I am sure we can find raincoats for your pet dogs too.
There are also very good conversations to have that will start with "it is so rainy today". No nonononono no, don't think "but of course, the plum-rain and all..." you need to think of an answer so that you can go on talking about other things than rain.
I am from Belgium, a country nearly as famous as England for its rain. So I have none of that, except only a few dozen plastic umbrellas home. And there are no plum-rain to stop me enjoying the rain, hoping for abundant crops and breathing the odor of wet soil and trees...