For those, who do not have a rainy season in their home country, hearing of a rainy season might sound a bit depressing and something you would rather prefer to skip, if possible. After all, rain is usually associated with a negative image. However, the rainy season in Japan has it’s positive sides, too!
First of all, let us take a look at the word meaning. The Japanese word for rainy season is “tsuyu” (梅雨). The Chinese characters (kanji) mean “plum” and “rain” and there are various theories, why this might be. One rather unlikely idea is, that during the rainy season, sometimes big raindrops pour down, as big as “plums”. Another explanation, which makes more sense, is, that during the rainy season the plums ripe, too, so it is the “plum season”. That is why “tsuyu” is sometimes read “baiu”.
It usually starts in the beginning/middle of June and lasts for about six weeks in Kanto area. Other parts of Japan have different schedules. In 2015, the expected dates were from around June 8th lasting until July 21st. In Okinawa, it on average starts around May 8th, one month earlier.
When it is raining a week straight and it is cloudy and grey outside, it can indeed be a bit gloomy. But do not worry, it is not raining cats and dogs the whole time. It is usually more frequent showers, rather than heavy downpours. Additionally, statistics show, that the rainy season in Japan has also a lot of sunny days, so basically it is not that bad.
If you really need to escape that season, Hokkaido can be recommended, since it is barely affected.
They have plenty of beautiful flowers blooming and a few amazing festivals, if you decide to go there, make sure to take some long-sleeved shirts as it generally still can get chilly around that time.