Picture this: You’re in Japan during the summer enjoying yourself, when you suddenly smell the telltale scent of rainclouds. The sky is darkening, the wind is picking up, and you can feel drops of moisture in the air. Japan’s rainy season is nothing to take lightly, with a monthly average of 15 centimeters of rainfall turning most days into a gloomy stretch of clouds. Stay in the know about how to get through rainy days hassle-free with these tips we’ve found for making it through the day.
Depending on your travel route and carrying capacity, you may want to favor the type of umbrella that can best serve your needs. While the classic style of umbrella is easily recognizable and easy to purchase from a variety of shops, the craft quality can vary greatly. While getting an umbrella cheaply at a convenience store or 100-yen store may be nice, it won’t feel so good when your new umbrella suddenly breaks under a strong wind. These umbrellas also take up a lot of space: carrying them around with you can be inconvenient and you can end up in a bad spot if you space out and wind up forgetting it at someplace. Classic styled umbrellas are also more likely to fall victim to being accidentally picked up from the wrong person. With the amount of generic clear convenience-store umbrellas in circulation, it might be hard to tell yours apart without a specific marker. However, these classic umbrellas are widely available with a transparent plastic canopy, making them convenient to use in crowded spaces or when you’re walking into a rainshower. By comparison, compact-style umbrellas are less available and more expensive, but take up less space and are easier to store in a bag or pocket. What kind of umbrella you prefer, you should try to consider how well it fits with your activities during the rainy day.
I once heard a saying that public cleanliness is the first line of defense against anarchy. That’s probably a little extreme, but it can’t hurt to think about it here. While most public spaces in Japan are kept in spic-and-span condition, that can really change during the rainy season. Moisture can form up everywhere as many people move in and out of the rain, so it’s important etiquette to dry yourself off before entering spaces. While shaking off your umbrella outside the entrance is a simple maneuver, it doesn’t look particularly graceful and can take up an unnecessary amount of space.
Most buildings offer either umbrella holders to keep your umbrella outside or special drying racks for when you have to take it inside. These drying racks can either physically dry the umbrella as you run it through or let patrons use a special plastic sheath to trap moisture while you’re inside someplace. Don’t make a faux pas by taking your dripping umbrella inside, make sure to dry it sufficiently so it doesn’t make a mess of the spaces many people have to use.
When it’s a rainy day in Japan, the route you take when traveling places can greatly affect how exposed you are to the elements. In larger Japanese cities such as Tokyo or Hiroshima, the variety of transport options offer some great ways to stay dry during a storm. When planning a route to someplace, check if that route involves outdoor walking at all. It may be more convenient in bad weather to take a longer route that’s sheltered. Paying slightly more for a longer trip is worth avoiding getting wet during a long walk.
When in doubt, it’s better to be patient than to rush out and risk getting soaked. If weather conditions outside are bad, it may be a good idea to wait for conditions to subside to when it’s more bearable to go out. You obviously shouldn’t give up your entire day waiting for the weather to dry out, but be observant of weather alert and forecasts if the weather calms at some point. Thankfully Japan has no shortage of indoor malls, department stores, and amusement centers to keep you occupied. Avoid the regret that comes from rushing a decision and calmly gather information about your current weather conditions before trying to brave a storm.
Were these tips helpful for you? Japanese culture has lots of small nuances that people are expected to conform to in situations. It can be confusing for visitors to adjust to these expectations, so it’s better to know about these ahead of time. Part of being an experienced traveler is awareness of adverse weather conditions, and Japan’s summer is no stranger to bursts of rain which can easily ruin an outing. Don’t let the rain dampen your mood and stay prepared.