Japan's Rainy Season (Tsuyu): What to Expect, When It'll Come, Things to Do, and More!
Japan's rainy season is known as "tsuyu" or "baiyu" in Japanese. It takes place every summer, usually in June. If you want to know how long it'll last, ways to enjoy the rainy days it brings, and all sorts of other info pertaining to the rainy season, this is the article for you. Sure, bad weather and especially rain can cause a lot of issues for your trip, but this article will make sure that you're well prepared to brave the elements and complete your Japan trip successfully!
Jun 11 2019 (Sep 09 2020)
About Japan's Rainy Season
Japan is known for having four distinct seasons, each with its own charms, such as cherry blossoms in spring, colorful foliage in the fall, and pure-white snow in the winter. In addition to these four seasons, there is the rainy season, known for covering the whole Japanese archipelago in rain and clouds.
Japan's rainy season occurs during the transition from spring into summer, when atmospheric pressure over the Pacific Ocean rises, pushing the continental air north over Japan, where the seasonal rain front becomes stagnant. The result is many days of rainy and cloudy weather. It affects all parts of Japan except for the northernmost island of Hokkaido.
How Long Does Rainy Season Last, and Just How Rainy Does it Get?
The amount of rainfall differs depending on the region as well as on each area's proximity to the ocean. In general, the Kanto and Tokai regions experience around 300 mm of rainfall over the whole season, and the Kyushu region experiences around 500 mm of rainfall. Thus, it can be said that the further west you go, the more it rains. Note that there are occasionally years where it rains as little as 150 mm.
There is a trend of the first half of the rainy season being full of cloudy days with not much rainfall, and the second half being full of days with very strong rain. It is also said that in Tokyo, there are around 8 days per season where the sun doesn't shine even for an instant!
Rainy Season by Area
The starting and ending dates for the rainy season vary by region as the rain front moves northward, starting in the tropical islands to the south of Japan and ending just below Hokkaido. In general, the rainy season tends to last about one and a half months. The end of rainy season brings a long period of sunshine and the gradual heating of Japan, signaling the start of summer.
What to Wear During Japan's Rainy Season
The humidity during the rainy season can be extremely high, and you will often find yourself sweating even though it isn't sunny or particularly hot outside. Also, since it marks the changing from spring to summer, there can be large differences in temperature throughout the day. Thus it is recommended to wear a light jacket and removable layers. Also, always wear shoes or boots that can withstand the rain, even if it is not raining when you step outside.
One of the most important things to have with you during this season is an umbrella, and luckily they can be purhcased for the low price of 100 - 500 yen from any of Japan's ubiquitous convenience stores if you ever get caught unprepared in the rain.
Note that most stores in Japan take measures to prevent customers from bringing wet, leaky umbrellas into the store. Most commonly you will find an umbrella stand outside of the entrance where you are meant to leave your umbrella as you enter the store and then pick it back up when you leave. Please remember where you left your umbrella so you do not take someone else's by mistake. It might even be a good idea to mark your umbrella with a piece of string or marker!
There are many other stores that, instead of umbrella stands, have a dispensary for long, thin plastic sheathes to put around your umbrella to prevent it from leaking all over the floor as you shop. The dispensers where you retrieve the sheathes usually have trash bins connected or nearby, so be sure to throw away your used sheath when you leave the store.
Ways to Enjoy Japan Even When It's Raining Outside
While you may not want to venture outside among the dreariness and rain during the rainy season, it's not like you can waste your precious, limited time during a long-awaited trip to Japan either! Below are a few activity recommendations for those who still want to explore beyond their hotel while in Japan during the rainy season.
Check out Spots That Are Best Visited When It's Raining
Japanese forests are full of countless varieties of moss that cover the stones and tree trunks, painting a lovely scene when it rains. Pay special attention to how the moss is covered in tiny droplets of dew, making it sparkle like a blanket of jewels - a mystical sight that looks right out of a fantasy movie or anime! Check out the spots below to have your breath taken away by the utmost in primeval forest beauty.
・Oirase Gorge (Aomori)
Oirase Gorge is located within Aomori Prefecture in north Japan. Its landscape, covered in moss and trees, is especially gorgeous during rainy days and some say it even looks like it is breathing. There are well-marked and maintained walking paths, so you don't have to worry about losing your way or losing your footing even when visiting during a rainy day.
・Bijin Forest (Niigata)
The name of this forest translates to "Beauty Forest." It is filled with countless Japanese beech trees, many of which are over 100 years old. In the center, you will find a tranquil pond that reflects the serene scenery surrounding it like a mirror. The grove is already beautiful due to the contrast between the green leaves and the white bark of the trees, but it is exceptionally gorgeous when it rains. You need to see it to believe it!
Nagano Prefecture is famous for the Kiso Hinoki variety of cypress tree which they often use to construct bridges and houses. Cypress wood releases a delightful fragrance when it gets wet, so why not try going on an aromatic stroll though the old-style townscape of Narai, Nagano? It'll surely be a new kind of experience you won't soon forget.
Check Out Some Beautiful Hydrangeas
Hydrangea flowers are considered the symbol of the rainy season in Japan. The contrast between the pastel-colored petals and the bright green leaves of this flower look even more striking when wet by the rain.
・Michinoku Hydrangea Garden (Iwate)
This is one of the largest hydrangea gardens in all of Japan and consists of a roughly 2 km walking trail lined on both sides with around 40,000 hydrangea plants of 400 varieties. The stunning scenery comprised of colorful hydrangeas surrounded by towering cedar trees looks like something out of a fantasy movie!
・Minoyama Park (Saitama)
Minoyama Park is located on the peak of Mt. Minoyama, which stretches between the towns of Chichibu and Minano in Saitama Prefecture. This park is especially famous for its rainy season scenery in which 4,500 hydrangea plants bloom and color the whole side of the mountain. The visual contrast between the blooming hydrangeas and the surrounding greenery is quite stunning, and if you're lucky, you will get to see an even more spectacular view of the cloudy sky lit by the sunset.
・Hakusan Shrine (Bunkyo, Tokyo)
This famous hydrangea spot, home to around 3,000 colorful hydrangea plants, hosts the Bunkyo Hydrangea Festival every year. This festival, which takes place in an area of Tokyo that retains a retro, working-class atmosphere, draws a large number of tourists to the usually quiet area each June.
・Meigetsu Temple (Kanagawa)
Located in Kamakura and nicknamed "Hydrangea Temple," Meigetsu Temple is one of the most famous hydrangea spots in the Kanto region. The magnificent path to the Hondo (Main Hall) is lined with pink, purple, and blue hydrangeas - creating a breathtaking view that also incorporates a traditional Japanese temple.
Visit a Theme Park!?
It may seem crazy to visit a theme park on rainy days, but there are actually plenty of theme parks within Japan that are full of indoor activites to enjoy! Because most people tend to avoid theme parks altogether duirng rainy days, you will probably be able to avoid the crowds and have a splendid visit even if you just stick to the indoor attractions. Here are a few theme parks within the Tokyo area that have indoor activites for you to enjoy during the rainy season.
Tokyo Joypolis is a large theme park located in the Odaiba area of Tokyo. It has over 20 exciting attractions for you to enjoy, many of which incorporate well-known anime and video game characters due to the park being run by the Japanese video game developer Sega. You can leave and enter with the purchase of a single ticket, so you can spend a whole day shopping and dining in the Odaiba area while intermittently partaking in the entertainment Joypolis has on offer.
This is a theme park where you can encounter Hello Kitty, Gudetama, and other beloved characters created by the super popular Japanese company Sanrio. It is located just 30 minutes from Shinjuku, Tokyo. Recently, they have installed many photo areas for you to pose with your favorite characters and if that isn't enough, there are plenty of exclusive goods for you to get your hands on, as well as many shows and parades to watch. On rainy days only, you can get an 800 yen discount - called the Kerokero Discount - on the entrance fee (from 3,300 to 2,500 JPY) if you bring some Keroppi memorabilia with you!
・LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER Tokyo
LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER Tokyo is an entertainment facility located within DECKS Tokyo Beach in Odaiba where you can immerse yourself in the world of LEGO®. In addition to having fun constructing your own masterpieces out of LEGO® blocks, there are a host of other hands-on activities, such as workshops run by "Master Builders," for you to enjoy. Note that this facility is intended for children, and adults without children are refused entry at all times except during special events such as the Adult Night held the 3rd Saturday of each month. In addition to Tokyo, there is also a LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER in Osaka.
・Oedo Onsen Monogatari
This theme park is designed to look like an old townscape from the Edo period (1603 - 1868) and includes a host of relaxing facilities such as public baths, foot baths, hot stone saunas, and more, as well as a wealth of dining options to enjoy. You can stay here from 11:00 am all the way until 9:00 am the next day! It's a great travel option for a wide variety of groups and visitors.
In addition to the parks listed above, it's worth considering going to outdoor theme parks such as Tokyo Disneyland or Universal Studios Japan during the rainy season! If you don't mind getting a little wet, you will surely enjoy having the park nearly all to yourself as you go from attraction to attraction with very short lines or no lines at all!
Soak in Japanese Culture at a Gallery or Museum
Japan is a country with a rich culture and history, so it is, of course, home to countless museums and galleries. Sticking within Tokyo, some of the most recommended museums include the Edo-Tokyo Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, the National Art Center, the Tokyo National Museum, teamLAB Borderless, the Yayoi Kusama Museum, and the Sumo Museum. Visiting even one of these places is a great way to get in touch with Japanese history and culture, but try to visit as many as you can!
Shop 'Til You Drop at a Shopping Center Connected to a Train Station
Another good strategy to pass the time during a rainy day is to go shopping. There are several shopping facilities within Tokyo that are directly connected to major stations, so you can visit them stress-free even during the most torrential of rainfalls!
In the famous Shibuya area, known for its iconic Scramble Crossing, you will find Shibuya Hikarie, a department store attached to Shibuya Station. Attached to Shinjuku Station, the busiest train station in the world, is a shopping facility called NEWoMan. The popular entertainment area of Odaiba has Odaiba Palette Town, and the popular nightlife district of Roppongi is home to Roppongi Hills.
These spots are great to visit whether you're on the lookout for fashion, food, entertainment, or all of the above! On top of that, they are perfect for picking up some souvenirs to take back home with you.
It can be easy to feel a bit down and grey during the rainy season in Japan. However, if you have the right attitude, you can grow to appreciate the rainy season for its unique charms, many of which we have described in this article. Please refer to this article for ideas if it rains during your long-awaited trip to Japan so that you don't waste your time waiting in your hotel for the rain to stop!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.