“Waiting for a few hours of no rain to hang the washing and cursing like a sick sailor because it still ends up smelling like dead frogs.” That is TW Facebook commenter Alain Roy’s rather bittersweet memory associated with tsuyu – Japan’s rainy season. And boy, can we relate! Doing laundry becomes a race against the clock when a heavy rainfall could hit at any moment.
While it’s easy to give up on going outside all together, we think there’s something romantic about Japan’s rainy season. The temperature drops, making you reach for the only sweater you left out of storage and elicits a craving for hot cocoa again… or is that just us?
We reached out to your readers on Facebook last week at the peak of tsuyu to ask about their favorite things about this time of year. We received more than 20 answers and inspiration to share right here, right now.
Go to Hakone! You can find Ajisai soft cream there 👌
Some places especially come to life during tsuyu. Hakone, as our reader Lisa Kim Hong so enthusiastically brought to the table, is an especially popular destination during the warmer months, including the rainy month of June. Of course, straying away from the city means you’ll be surrounding yourself in more lush vegetation, which truly seems to thrive in tsuyu weather. And, ajisai (hydrangea) ice cream? Yes, please!
Other places that are absolutely great to visit during tsuyu are temples and shrines, for their special mystique under showers and Hokkaido, one of the Japanese regions less affected by the rainy season, and therefore perfect for those who want to spent some time outdoors and still stay dry.
2. Spend the Day in a Coffee Shop
I’d be either hanging out at a kissaten or exploring the underground malls
We don’t mean to insist that you should spend all of tsuyu outside. We admit there’s also something incredibly romantic about an afternoon in, listening to the rain hitting against the window. Whether it’s in your living room, rolled up with a good book or at your local Starbucks (while also socially distancing!) If you really want to embrace that rainy season mood, consider visiting a masterpiece café.
Called meikyoku kissa in Japanese, these special coffee shops are all about the ambiance, music and eclectic decor. We recommend these especially for those wanting to get their creative juices going. Pen and paper are not mandatory but highly recommended in case of a strike of inspiration. Check out TW’s guide to must-visit masterpiece cafés here.
1. Walk Through Gardens and Parks
Walk around with an umbrella and enjoy the rain, the sights and the beauty that surrounds you
To some, being outside in the rain sounds like a good way to catch a cold. Of course, it’s imperative that to enjoy the rainy season in Japan, one must throw on a raincoat and a pair of waterproof shoes. Only when dressed appropriately can you really see what the season brings out in the country’s gardens and parks. It’s usually quieter and the overcast sky brings out the colors in flowers in bloom. There’s also something special about drinking a hot beverage while it’s slightly chilly out.
Of course, the main attraction of gardens and parks is hydrangea. These beautiful purple flowers are very much the cherry blossoms of summer, announcing the new season with a brief appearance before disappearing until next year. You don’t have to walk very far to spot them, though. Chances are that if you take a short walk to your local train station or playground, you’ll see a few ajisai!
Want to know some of the best places to see hydrangea if you live in Tokyo? Check out this curated selection.