Rainy season is most definitely upon us here in Fukushima. Rainy season is called ‘tsuyu‘ or ‘baiyu‘ in Japan, literally meaning ‘plum rain’. Rainy season in Tohoku typically lasts from the beginning of June through the end of July. The amount of rain varies from year to year, and region to region. Regardless, the season brings with it a wonderfully stifling humidity that everyone is sure to enjoy.
While it won’t rain every day, it’s important to be prepared for the possibility of rain. Many of us lucky teachers rely on open air, man powered contraptions (also known as bicycles) to get us to and from work. Nothing starts your work day off quite so fantastically as arriving to school with soaking wet britches. You may see many locals effortlessly cycling about town with their umbrellas out, despite the fact it is illegal to cycle while using an umbrella. As such, how does one get to and from school (legally) and remain dry during the rainy season?
The solution to the rainy season dilemma is simple– the rain suit. It may not be the most fashionable choice but it is definitely the most practical. Rain suits vary in size, colour, and quality. You can find a rain suit at your local 100 yen store or you can find more expensive varieties at your local home and sporting good stores. If you decide to go with a 100 yen rain suit, the job will be accomplished and you will be protected from the rain. The flip side of this is that you are more or less wearing a giant garbage bag while cycling…in the middle of summer. You may end up arriving to school sopping wet with a 100 yen rain suit, but it won’t be from the rain–it’ll be from basting inside of your suit! Shop around when you’re looking to buy a rain suit. It is especially important to look for suits that offer vents; they help with air flow and circulation while riding to keep you cool. When it comes to rainy season, preparation is key.
Here are few more suggestions for travelling during rainy season.
- Have an spare, cheap, rain suit or rain slicker in your bag or at school. The weather is fickle and you’ll be thankful when caught unaware.
- Cycle to work in gym clothes and change once you get there. This includes a change of socks.
- Give yourself extra time for your commute if the weather is foul. You never know what you may run into.
- Be extra aware on the commute. Drivers tend to lose some sanity points whenever the weather is anything but clear.
- Remember, the roads will be slicker. Things you can do when sunny, don’t always work on rainy roads.
- Daiso sells bicycle seat and basket covers. Invest in these. Nobody likes a soggy butt and even fewer people like wet work bags.
- If you’re a car driver, be aware of puddles on the side of the road. It seriously stinks to get sprayed down by a driver passing by when you’re on the foot path.
The rainy season may also affect you around the house. Laundry may take longer to dry thanks to the humidity. You may be like me and hang your washing out before going to work. It’s a beautiful day! What could go wrong? A capricious passing shower, that’s what. If the weather is looking foul, play it safe and hang your clothes up inside. If you are able to set up a tension rod in your window, this is a great solution. You get the benefit of the sunlight, with the protection from the rain! Another solution is to purchase indoor-drying laundry detergent, ‘Heya-boshi senzai‘. This detergent leaves a coating on your clothes which protects from bacterial growth and nasty odours.
Mould and humidity are additional threats inside your apartment during rainy season. Running the aircon unit on the dehumidify setting, ‘joshitsu/除湿‘, can help if you don’t mind the cost. A cheaper solution is to invest in disposable dehumidifiers, ‘Shikketori‘. You can purchase them from your local 100 yen or home goods shops. They come in several varieties and often look like little plastic boxes with plastic beads in them. While they may look innocuous, these little things will eventually fill up with water that they’ve sucked out of the air. Place them in your cabinets, closets, under your bed frame, in the water closet, and anywhere else you might like. Don’t forget to check on them and change them out for new ones when they get full. Make sure to keep your futon and bedding off the floor! Air out your bedding, rotate the location, and invest in wooden pallets to keep your linens off the ground and mildew-free!
Don’t let the rainy season get you down! Don’t let it stop you from going out and making plans. Just make sure that you have rain-friendly back-up plans!
Once the rainy season is over, you’ll be treated to the remarkably verdant and neon greens of the rice fields