16 Jun TSUYU (rainy season) and Beyond
Last Modified on June 18th, 2021 at 10:11 am
Category: Japanese Culture, Seasonal, Social & Culture
(header photo by Patrick Vierthaler)
June and TSUYU
With the passing of May’s blue skies and refreshing weather, June is finally here. While Japan may only have four official seasons, this time of the year marks the beginning of another special period- Japan’s rainy season.
Called ‘tsuyu’ in Japan, the rainy season stretches from the beginning of June all the way to mid July.
As many people who have been living in Japan for a while can attest, tsuyu is marked by a rapid rise in humidity and is not exactly what one would call pleasant (unless one loves tropical humidity type climates!). However- despite the unpleasantness- tsuyu is extremely important to Japan.
Since ancient times, rice has been the staple food of Japan. The rain brought on by this tsuyu period serves to provide sufficient water to fill the rice fields and foster the growth of the rice seedlings. Therefore, it has long been a custom for farmers to begin planting rice in earnest each year in June. While farming is mostly fully automated nowadays, simply go to the suburbs outside Tokyo and you can see the process taking place.
Beauty of the rainy season
If you turn your eyes back to the city, there is now greenery in abundance. The beauty of nature at this time is exemplified in the Japanese hydrangea (ajisai). Its color can change from white, green, blue, purple, peach, to red. So it is often known as the color changing flower. In any case, the rainy season is often associated with hydrangeas so please enjoy them!
At the end of June, there is a long standing custom. It is called “Nagoshi no Harae” or “The Purification Ritual of Summer’s Passing.” For this custom, people visit temples and shrines to purify themselves of the first half of the year’s misdeeds. A large ring woven from kaya straw is attached to the torii gate at each shrine.
If you circle around the ring three times, it is said that you will spend the remaining six months of the year safely. If you have a chance to pass by a shrine during this period, why not drop on it and give it a try!
In addition to preparing your mask each day in these times, make sure not to forget your portable umbrella- just in case!!! Stay dry and healthy and enjoy the weather everyone. 🙂