As if 2020 wasn’t already bad enough, Japan had to put up with torrential rain, deadly floods, and what feels like a never-ending rainy season. The only ray of light amid the clouds, Japan could have its first typhoon-free July since records started in 1951.
The rainy season is called 梅雨(also ばいう) in Japanese, which translates to “plum rain.” It begins from late May to mid-June and lasts through July. The season coincides with the ripening of Japan’s plums picked to make plum liquor (梅酒) and pickled plums (梅干し).
During this period, Japan experiences weeks of rain and unpredictable weather. Temperatures aren’t that hot, but the humidity reaches unbearable highs, molding your clothes and making physical activity very sweaty.
When does the rainy season end?!
Japan enters the beginning of the rainy season (梅雨入り) when the Japanese Meteorological Agency says it does. This is usually after observing a string of rainy days and unsettled weather. The season ends (梅雨明け) when, well, the rain stops and the weather gets hot and sunny.
“Waiting for the rainy season to end.”
But this year around, tsuyu seems to have no end. Tokyo saw a record 18th straight day of rain and no sunlight, a first since 1988. But Tokyo folks got it easy compared to the hardships people living in southwestern and central Japan went through. The extreme heavy rainfalls triggered severe floods, overflowing rivers, and mudslides.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that everyone in Japan is, for once, longing for hot summer days to start.
— あさひは面倒くさい (@rei124c41) July 29, 2020
“I can’t put up with the rain anymore!!!!!
It’s not summer, but isn’t July ending!?!!!”
— うっちー (@ucchiy42) July 27, 2020
“The end of the rainy season has been forecast for this weekend,
But today it’s raining a lot!
Please, make the rainy season end soon! lol”
— ミケちゃん (@ojm52811) July 27, 2020
“Mike-chan, ‘A while ago, around the time [my neighbor] came, it was bright outside, but now it’s dark. Somehow this year, when the rainy season will end, summer will have past by, and we’ll be in autumn…'”
Talking about rain in Japanese
The Japanese language lists over 400 words to talk extensively about rain. Lucky for you, the majority of them are mostly cultural expressions that you will not find outside of books and poems. So we’ve selected keywords that Japanese folks use daily to talk about rainy days all year long. Let’s first have a quick overview of seasonal rains, because as one should know, Japan has four seasons.
- 秋雨: autumnal rain
- 氷雨: chilly rain, from the end of autumn till early winter
- 凍雨: winter rain
- 春時雨: gentle spring rain
- 五月雨: early summer rain
- 夕立: summer afternoon rain
If you check the Japan Meteorological Agency website, you’ll learn how precise Japanese people can be when it comes to the wet weather.
Hourly precipitation (mm)
Words used in forecast
How folks perceive the rain
(above 10 mm up to 20)
Moderate heavy rain
Falling down hard
(above 20 mm up to 30)
(above 30 mm up to 50)
Rain is pouring like from a bucket
(above 50 mm up to 80)
Extreme torrential rain
Rain is falling like a waterfall (it keeps pouring down)
(above 80 mm)
Ferocious rain storm
The pressure makes you feel breathless. You feel afraid.
While the vocabulary above is used by weather forecast programs, most folks will use the following words:
- 小雨: light rain or drizzle and its antonym, 大雨: heavy rain
- 小降り: light rain and its antonym, どしゃ降り: heavy rain
- 俄雨: rain shower
While we all wait for the sunny days, this umbrella seems to be an excellent idea, and we’d love to give it a try!
“First time seeing such an umbrella lol Neeeeed lol”
|verb+ 頃に||koro ni||by the time/around the time when + verb|