The Japanese use characters that mean “plum” and “rain” to describe this mini-season that lasts between four and six weeks. Perhaps a more appropriate name, though, would be hot-and-humid-children-inside-too-much-mommy-going-crazy rain. (One day I think I’ll write a letter to the prime minister suggesting the name change….)
Part of the reason this is such a problem is that laundry is dried outside and days and days of rain mean days and days worth of laundry hung all over the house from every conceivable overhang.
We spend our days ducking work shirts here, towels there, school uniforms over that way, while inside the house it gets hot and muggy and tempers flare.
This is also a season where you must be vigilant. Food goes bad quickly. The damp, warm conditions are heaven for molds and fungi of all kinds. Bathrooms get icky. Bread goes bad. Gnats swarm in the creases of damp umbrellas hung outside.
But there is another side to tsuyu that we adults miss out on:
Children pull on their rain boots to stomp in rain puddles, then stop to see the beautiful patterns water droplets form on delicate spider webs. Under any rock, a roly-poly may be hiding. Snails and slugs love garden walls and, just like the wee ones, care not to whom those walls may happen to belong. Gutters fill with rain, making a delightful slushing sound.
Rain drip-drop-plops on cement roofs at night, lulling us to sleep with nature’s oldest lullaby.
Sometime in July, the dreary, slow days of tsuyu give way to the piercing heat and humidity of summer.
Cicadas emerge by the hundreds of millions, big and fat and ready for the world after seven years spent sleeping in the ground. And we awake to the sun that rises before five a.m., to Radio Taiso, (calisthenics instructed through the radio) on school grounds at 6:30, to pools and oceans we can only enjoy for a few weeks before the jellyfish come, those harbingers of autumn.
And every year my children grow a little bigger, I grow a little wiser, and the world around us spins and spins so fast I struggle to catch my breath.
Does your country have a “rainy season?” What other kinds of “extra” seasons are out there?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from mother of two in Japan, Melanie Oda. You also can find Melanie writing on her personal blog, Hamakko Mommy.
The image used in this post is attributed to Sektordua. It holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.