Enjoying Japan’s ‘Fifth’ Season

Most Japanese would jokingly say that Japan has a fifth season – a period of transition from chilly spring to humid summer. Tsuyu, as the Japanese call it, is commonly equated to the month of June. Okinawa though starts to experience scattered rains as early as May. For central Japan, the rainy season runs from around mid-June to the end of July. Despite the restrictions posted by the seemingly unpleasant weather, there are sure ways to enjoy this season in Japan, whether you are a homebody who prefers to stay home or a person who enjoys discovering new places.

1. Go to a local sento.

If you do not want to travel far for a nice warm dip in the bath, why not explore your neighborhood and find a local sento. These places are sometimes taken for granted because almost all houses in Japan now have their own tubs. However, going to the local sento, where you’ll probably see familiar faces, cultivates a feeling of belonging to a community. Strike a conversation with an obaachan or ojiichan and let their wisdom pour out and their life stories warm your heart.

2. Have fun at an indoor amusement park.

If you prefer to do activities that require more action, spend your time exploring exciting attractions at an indoor amusement park. Lalaport in Toyosu has two famous play areas, Adventure Island and Kidzania, where families can spend quality time with their kids. Namja Town, Sanrio Puro Land and Joypolis are also good options because they also have attractions that adults will find exciting to try.

3. Make a teruteru bozu and hang it outside your window.

If you hate a rainy day and would love to see the sun shine as soon as possible, try making your own personalized teruteru bozu. These handmade dolls made of white cloth or paper are hung outside the windows to ward off bad weather and urge the sun to shine again. If you’re feeling creative, try drawing a detailed face on your doll and give it a name. Who says making dolls is only for kids?

4. Go shopping for a nice pair of rain boots.

Since it will be raining on most days during this season, it is a good idea to buy a nice pair of reliable rain boots – something that would keep your feet dry as you walk to and from the station while the rain is pouring hard. Don’t buy the cheap ones, invest instead in a pair that would serve you well! If you’re adventurous enough, choose the ones that are not only heavy-duty, but colorful as well. Add color to your gloomy rainy days and pick the most shocking hues like neon yellow or electric green. Shops start selling these boots as early as May, so shop early and get to choose the best designs!

5. Spend some time with charming creatures.

Animal cafes are all over Japan. Whether you love cats or adore dogs, there are several cafes that welcome guests anytime of the day without reservations. If you would like to spend your time with owls though, you need to book a reservation ahead of time since these kinds of cafes are popular and often get fully-booked at certain time slots. If tending cute animals bores you, try the reptile cafe in Yokohama, have coffee with penguins in Ikebukuro or kill time staring at hedgehogs in Roppongi.

6. Avoid the rain and fly to Hokkaido!

Hokkaido is a popular winter destination but it has its own distinct beauty in summer. This island, being in the far north of Japan, hardly experiences the rainfalls that the rest of the regions experience during this season. Hokkaido has wide colorful flower fields, lakes and waterfalls, and mountains that are perfect for hiking. There are also several farms in the island where you can stay for a few days to help till the soil, milk the cows and take care of the sheep. What a relaxing way to spend your weekend away from the metropolis! - Herlyn Alegre