The rainy season, tsuyu, lasts from the beginning of June to mid-July in mainland Japan. It affects Okinawa about a month earlier but does not reach Hokkaido. Tsuyu literally means plum rain. One of the reasons why it’s called tsuyu is that it occurs when plums are ripening. The phrase “plum rain” therefore embodies various aspects of Japan in this season.
The weather bureau announces the beginning and the end of tsuyu every year, but sometimes they are uncertain of exactly when it will start or when it has finished and so they have to make their announcements afterward.
During tsuyu it does not rain every day, but the weather varies from intensive downpours to occasional sprinkles. It tends to be very humid so people avoid hanging the laundry outside and are watchful for any signs of mold. The Japanese tend to dislike the effects of the season on their daily life, while enjoying its cultural traditions.
Some sights, such as wooden temples, gardens and old houses are rather attractive in the season’s rain and mist and these conditions make for an atmospheric visit. The appreciation of the light and shadow of such settings is celebrated in many aspects of Japanese culture from architecture to food. Some architecture is constructed to facilitate the enjoyment of the sound of raindrops. Also, people enjoy seeing hydrangeas in the rain.