Do You Know These 7 Essential Japanese Vocabulary Items for Summer?

  • Summer in Japan begins in June and lasts all the way up to September, and depending on where you are in the country, it can either be a sticky and humid season or a pleasantly cool respite from the colder months. Hokkaido and Aomori prefectures, for example, enjoy bright sunshine and warm weather, whereas cities such as Tokyo suffer through stuffy air and humidity.

    Love it or hate it, the summer season comes suddenly with soaring temperatures and has its own charms and features. Here are seven vocabulary items that will come in useful if you are planning to be in Japan this summer!

    1. Atsui

    “Atsui” means “hot,” and you are guaranteed to hear this on a warm day! Humid weather means that people will be fanning themselves or stretching out in parks to relax on their days off. You can say “totemo atsui” to mean “very hot.”

    2. Tsuyu

    June in Japan is the season of heavy rainfall and sticky, hot air. The Japanese call this time of year “tsuyu,” translating to “rainy season.” It is recommended you avoid tsuyu if you want to do a lot of outdoor things during your time in Japan.

    3. Hanabi

    Summer is the season for fireworks in Japan, so be sure to catch a “hanabi” festival. “Hana” means “flower” and “bi (hi)” means “fire,” so “fireworks” mean “fire flowers” in Japanese.

    If you love hanabi, check out the Sumida River Fireworks Festival, the Omagari National Fireworks Competition, and the Nagaoka Fireworks.

    4. Mushi

    “Mushi,” the collective word for bugs and insects, is something you will not only hear if you are in the countryside. Insects love summer so much that you’re likely to see some kind of tiny creature even if you are in a large city. Some common insects you will see in summer include gokiburi (cockroaches), kumo (spiders), and kamemushi (stink bugs).

    If you combine “mushi” and “atsui,” you get “mushiatsui,” meaning “humid,” presumably because a hot and humid weather is likely to attract more insects.

    5. Obon

    “Obon” is several days in mid-August when most companies have time off to spend time with their families and pray at their ancestors’ graves. It is a time when the larger cities tend to be less crowded because everyone is in their hometown with their parents.

    It is not recommended you visit during Obon week because prices for hotels and the like tend to increase. However, it may be worth it if you don’t want to miss the Bon dances and festivities.

    6. Semi

    Depending on your home country, you may have seen these creatures before. “Semi” is the Japanese word for “cicada,” and in late August, you can hear these all over the place.

    The sound of them buzzing in trees signals that summer is coming to an end, and after the few weeks that they occupy the trees and make themselves heard, the weather starts to get cooler.

    7. Natsu

    The word for “summer” itself is “natsu”! Although it is the time for rainy season and bugs, many love summer for the limited food items such as kakigori (crushed ice dessert), beach activities, and the warm weather.

    If you are a fan of summer, visiting Japan around July isn’t a bad idea. These useful words will hopefully be helpful if you decide to visit during Japan’s hot season.