Saturday, June 09, 2007

Rainy season (tsuyu)

Growing up in sunny California I enjoyed long summer days because of Daylight Savings (called summer time here in Japan). I remember I could play outside past 8pm and still be home before dark. Summer was and still is my favorite season back home. But in Japan it's a different story. According to some haiku masters, there are 5 seasons here in Japan, rainy season being one of them. It has just started here in Odawara and will continue until mid-July. I understand that it is needed for the rice crops to grow and ensure we don't have any water shortages, but personally I can't stand it. I remember the first time I stepped off the plane way back in late June of 1990; I had never experienced such humidity in my life. I felt like I was in a sauna and quickly bought a handkerchief to wipe the perspiration from my face - people in California never use handkerchiefs (except for the few people who use it to blow their nose in). Anyway, I didn't do much research on Japan before arriving and did not expect the humidity nor the rain. I naively thought that it didn't rain in the summer time!

Tsuyu literally translates to "plum rain" because it coincides with the ripening of plums. Farmers are busy now preparing umeboshi or dried plums. This happens to be one of my favorite Japanese foods. Ajisai (hydrangea) is also a symbol of the rainy season. Nearby Hakone is a popular spot to view these flowers right now.

As I'm sitting here right now on this Sunday afternoon, the rain is pouring down. I wish I was back in SUNNY HOT DRY Stockton, California. :)


Anonymous said...

a pack of dried salted plum, a favourite cold drink on a side with 2 hands on the joystick of playstation 2 on the NBA Basketball favourite team, on a cozy couch in front of flat tv sceen tv at aircoditioned home on a lazy rainy, humid day, that may help bringing you back to Stockton for a moment in Japan!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy such humid and hot season by sweating. I go to gym or go running every weekend, and sweat a lot. After running, I take a shower and drink beer. I guarantee the beer after you sweat a lot is absolutely delicious! I usually go running to the cycling/walking road (nine kilometers long) along the Sakawa River. There are marks that show the distance each one kilometer, so you can see how long you ran. I also enjoy the weekly growth of rice along this road when I go running. I'm always amazed that the growth of rice is very fast.

Anonymous said...

Con, Stockton summers are still wonderful. The nights are great to take a walk. San Francisco is still cold in the summertime, but clear days are nice. The other day, Reiko, Kyle and I watched the sunset by the Golden Gate bridge @ 8:30pm. It was completely amazing. Japan has terrific beer drinking summers with a Hawaiian humidity feeling. I look forward to spending a summer there hanging out with you soon!