Mood of Okinawa’s rainy season depends on attitude

Category: [ Nature & Environment ]
Passing rain fronts can create quite dramatic scenes over the ocean. (By Peter Leong Photography)

The rainy season (Tsuyu or Baiu in Japanese) visits most parts of Japan from the beginning of June to mid July, although the season in Okinawa arrives in May, a month earlier than the rest of Japan. The word Baiu literally means “plum rain” because it coincides with the season of plums ripening.

Dress right and you’re good to go for Okinawa’s rainy season. (Photo courtesy of Kathryn Spoor – The OkiNinjaKitty Blog)

The rainy season is caused by cold north and warm southern air masses colliding, which results in a rainy weather front over the Japanese islands for several weeks. If you are trying to escape the rainy season but remain in Japan, the only place that is not affected is Hokkaido, the northernmost part of Japan. During the rainy season it does not rain everyday but it definitely feels like it some days. The amount of rainfall varies from intensive downpours to other days with occasional sprinkles.

In the past Okinawa did not have the same vast and robust water collection system it has now. There were very few dams built and when the rainy season was short with only a small amount of rainfall for the year, water restrictions would be implemented to the public causing issues. Now Okinawa has many dams, and even if the year’s rainfall is short, the water reserves are bountiful which doesn’t affect the public water supply.

Although the rainy season is not the most popular time to visit Okinawa, it can have a few advantages. For example, many popular outdoor attractions in June are not as crowded or busy from the usual droves of tourists. Furthermore, some of the sights can be even more beautiful in the rain, especially some of the forest walks and gardens. All you need to enjoy sightseeing in the rain is the right attitude and rain protection.

If you don’t mind being really soggy for about 3 weeks out of the year, then the rainy season in Okinawa is not a big deal. But if ankle-deep puddles and 2-3 days of constant rain get you down, it may be a good option to flee to another country or visit Hokkaido to escape. The best way to forge through the rainy season is to buy an umbrella and raincoat. If you are commuting to work by motorcycle and don’t appreciate soaking wet shoes, investing in a pair of boot-like rain covers for your shoes can ensure dry socks at work.

To those residents of Okinawa that feel like rainy season will never end, let me assure you that it does, and is never more than a month long, so enjoy the cool evenings because after rainy season the summer arrives, and then it gets hot!


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