24 Apr 2020 in On The Move
June and July bring rain to Japan – but there are many upsides if you’re properly prepared!
From early June to late July, the rainy season works its way up Japan from south to north, bringing high humidity and heavy showers region by region. Doesn’t sound like a good time to visit? In actual fact, the rain doesn’t need to put a damper on your trip, and there are many benefits to travelling at this period.
You’ll find tourist sights much less crowded, accommodation is easier to find, and forests and mountains are often at their most verdant and spectacular.
What’s more, themed stays during the season range from rainy glamping near Mt. Fuji to a mud-splattered off-road rally experience in Hokkaido.
The Japanese refer to rainy season as tsuyu meaning “plum rain” because it coincides with the period when plums are at their best. It’s a neat way to put a positive spin on the situation – and there are many more reasons to be upbeat. In Tokyo, the average temperature high is 25C (77F) – far more pleasant than the extreme heat of mid-summer or the cold of winter.
And rainy season doesn’t mean it rains every day. Sometimes, the entire season amounts to no more than 150mm of rain.
Still, it’s sensible to be equipped for wet weather if you’re visiting during rainy season. First and foremost, that means having an umbrella. Rain boots and a rain jacket are also a good idea.
And you might want to consider a waterproof bag if you’re carrying valuable gear like a camera or a laptop.
Wet weather wonders
If you’re staying in a city, you’ll have plenty of indoor options to avoid the rain. But it would be a shame to miss out on the great outdoors, which is often at its best during rainy season.
The wet weather brings lush new foliage and plant life to forests and hillsides. Head to Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel and you’ll be ideally positioned to explore the celebrated Oirase Gorge.
Here, in the depths of northern Aomori, you can follow a spectacular 8.5-mile trail from the hotel, following the ebbs and flows of the Oirase stream through the forest to its source, mighty Lake Towada.
In rainy season, the forest turns a luxuriant green and the Gorge is strewn with glistening moss. Some 300 different varieties of moss grow here, attracting moss enthusiasts from all over the country – and you can even sign up for a Moss Watching Tour at the hotel.
As you walk, keep your eyes peeled for seasonal wild flowers such as hydrangeas and Tiger Lilies.
After exploring the Gorge, enjoy getting soaked all over again – in the hotel’s hot spring baths, which include an outdoor bath overlooking the bubbling stream.
Fuji tipis in the sky
At HOSHINOYA Fuji, the resort’s signature glamping experience is given a rainy season makeover.
The luxury cabins, all offering prime views of Mt. Fuji, come with complimentary ponchos and rain boots.
Set on a forested hill above Lake Kawaguchi, the resort is spread over terraced levels. At the very top, a bonfire crackles away at the Cloud Terrace – with special “rain shelter tipis” suspended from the trees during the wet season.
These designer tipis not only provide shelter; they also change colour when they’re wet, creating a lively décor in the sky whenever the heavens open.
The resort provides a host of rainy season activities, including a watercolour postcard workshop and seasonal sweet treats around the bonfire. Guides can also take you out to explore the vivid rainy season colours and strong scents of the forests near Mt. Fuji, including the legendary Aokigahara Jukai “Sea of Trees” forest.
In the evening, you’ll dine outdoors (sheltered from the rain) sampling local cuisine such as game and mountain vegetables.
Mud fun in Hokkaido
Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido, has no rainy season. But it still rains occasionally – and, when it does, you can drive through the muddy puddles in an off-road buggy at Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Tomamu.
Set in a vast ski and farm domain, this family-friendly hotel hosts a special rally experience for guests in the summer months.
Held only on rainy days, the Tomamu Muddy Rally features several courses taking in forests, grasslands, muddy paths, and puddles aplenty.
You’ll be kitted out in jumpsuit and boots and shown how to operate the four-wheel drive buggy. Then it’s up to you to rev around the course as fast as you can.
Children are welcome to take a back seat, and there’s no need to worry about getting lost: a guide will follow behind in case you need help.
Record the fast time of the day and you’ll be awarded champagne and a medal. Then enjoy a soak in the resort’s open-air bath: the perfect antidote to Japan’s summer rain.