11 Things to Do When Traveling in Japan During the Rainy Season

  • The beginning of June marks the start of the rainy season in Japan, and it usually lasts until the end of July. While most travelers tend to avoid making plans during this time of year, there are actually a lot of fun activities you can enjoy despite the gloomy weather.

    The gray skies and seemingly endless downpour of rain can certainly affect your travel plans, but don’t let it dampen your adventure! The great outdoors isn’t the only thing you can explore during your trip. Here is a list of things you can do even when the weather is raining on your parade!

    1. Visit a museum

    A museum is the easiest place to learn about a country’s history and culture. But if you’re not exactly a history buff, Japan also has a plethora of unique specialty museums that are definitely worth visiting. From ramen museums to toilet exhibits, there is always something new and interesting to look forward to.

    The best part of it all is that you don’t have to worry too much about the weather forecast. Keep dry and experience the bizarre and quirky side of Japan by visiting museums such as Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum, the TOTO Museum, the Wood and Plywood Museum, and the Meguro Parasitological Museum.

    2. Try some seasonal desserts

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    Locals pay close attention to the changing seasons and this is reflected even in food and desserts. While Japan is known for their cherry blossoms in spring, the hydrangea (or ajisai) takes the center stage during the rainy season. Although many would recommend a trip to view the hydrangeas at a park, the rain does make it a bit inconvenient for some tourists.

    The good news is that you can still enjoy the season’s blooms by visiting a cafe or a confectionery shop. Some stores have beautifully crafted hydrangea-inspired desserts that are only available during the rainy season. So why not sit back, relax, and have a cup of warm tea and a slice of cake while it’s raining outside? Some desserts you might want to try are the ajisai konpeito (Japanese sugar candy) and ajisai parfait.

    3. Spend time at an animal cafe

    Japan is home to some of the most interesting animal cafes in the world. Cat cafes, bunny cafes, and hedgehog cafes are popular choices among locals and foreigners alike. But did you know that you can also have tea time with snakes, lizards, and tortoises? Although they are not exactly the type of crowd you’d normally invite to a tea party, it would definitely be a memorable experience during your trip. Check out HAGU CAFE (Japanese only) for hedgehogs and Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse (Japanese only) for reptiles!

    4. Belt out a song at a karaoke box

    No trip to Japan is complete without bursting into song at a karaoke box. There are plenty of karaoke spots located all over Japan. In fact, no matter where you may be in the country, you are bound to find at least one karaoke establishment within the vicinity.

    If you’re worried about not knowing Japanese songs, most karaoke machines have a wide variety of songs in other languages such as English, Chinese, and Korean.

    The best part of Japanese karaoke boxes isn’t just the fact that you are able to sing your heart out in a private room, you can also order some food while you’re at it. Most establishments also offer unlimited drink options just in case your throat runs dry after all that singing.

    5. Relax at an onsen

    A rainy day usually makes for a good excuse to stay within the comforts of your own home. But lazing the day away is no way to spend a vacation in Japan. Why not get the best of both worlds by immersing yourself in Japanese culture while relaxing? Going to an onsen allows you to experience an essential part of Japanese culture as you unwind. It’s a smart way of giving yourself a break from all that traveling.

    As you may already know, Japan has thousands of onsen establishments. Choose one near you and you’re in for a great day ahead, no matter how gray the clouds may be.

    6. Join a factory tour

    Aside from museums and art galleries, Japan also has a lot of factory tours available to the public. If you’ve always been interested in the history and production of Japanese goods, a factory tour is the best way to pick up some interesting information. While beer factory tours are the most common, there are also tours available at some food and snack production factories. Check out the Shiroi Koibito Factory Tour and the tours offered at CUPNOODLES MUSEUM YOKOHAMA.

    7. Learn a Japanese recipe

    Another way of getting to know a country is through their food, so why not learn a recipe or two? It’s one thing to taste a country’s cuisine and another to actually learn how to make them. Get to know the ingredients behind Japan’s local flavor by learning how to cook a dish from a local.

    ABC Cooking Studio offers one-day cooking lessons in English, and they welcome both beginners and professional home cooks. Their cooking lessons differ monthly, but you are sure to get a glimpse of Japanese food culture in every lesson.

    8. Hit the arcade

    Japan is the only country left that still pushes to integrate arcade games into modern gaming culture. One might argue that a smartphone game is enough to be entertained, but visiting a game center in Japan might change your mind. As one would expect from an arcade, Japan’s game centers are packed with a variety of game machines – some of which may even be familiar to foreigners such as Dance Dance Revolution, Initial D car racing games, and fighting games like Street Fighter and The King of Fighters.

    However, there’s actually more to see other than these usual gaming options. Japan’s game centers are also known for their UFO catchers and “purikura” photo booths. These will surely keep you busy for quite a while that you may not even notice the weather outside.

    9. Go food shopping

    Shopping is an obvious activity in every tourist’s itinerary. Apart from visiting popular shops, you might want to pay a visit to a “depachika” – or simply the basement floor of a department store. Almost every department store in Japan has a basement dedicated to local gourmet food.

    From bento boxes to traditional sweets and snacks, it’s difficult to choose just one. The best thing about depachika is that most stores offer a free sampling of their products. If you’re looking for an easy food adventure, Japan’s depachika is the perfect destination!

    10. Attend a tea ceremony

    When in Japan, grab the opportunity to experience a traditional tea ceremony. The Japanese tea ceremony is an art form: it follows a step-by-step ritual of tea preparation. While most people attend the ceremony to simply watch, a part of it is actually spent enjoying and appreciating tea.

    It’s important to note that certain etiquette must be followed when in a tea ceremony. It is best to do a quick research to avoid accidents and embarrassing mistakes.

    11. Drink at an izakaya

    Experience a quintessential Japanese aesthetic by drinking at an izakaya on a rainy evening. Izakayas are hole-in-the-wall Japanese bars where you can enjoy fresh karage fried chicken and refreshments at a leisurely pace. The language barrier isn’t a big issue – just relax and enjoy your time. You can find an izakaya a stone’s throw away from anywhere you find yourself, just walk in and take a seat.

    Japan is a great place for travel, no matter what the weather. All it takes is a bit of research and you’re bound to find something memorable and worthwhile. Have you been thinking about traveling to Japan during the rainy season?

    *Featured Image: jp.fotolia.com/