May 30, 2017
The local free paper cover article says something like, 'It's rainy, but keep your beautiful hairstyle!'
The article is mostly about using treatments (before and after blow drying) and how to correctly point the blow dryer down and not up while drying your hair. Anyway, It made me think about how people in Japan seem to look perfect all the time, despite the rainy season.
I moved to Japan from a rainy region (Portland, Or.) and it doesn't compare. People back home rarely use umbrellas for the generally light rain, opting instead for rain jackets or hoodies. You can see people on bikes in rain gear, but never riding with umbrellas. Just because Portlanders don't mind getting a little wet, it doesn't mean they look especially great – more like a cat who just got a bath if the rain gets a little stronger.
The rain can be a lot heavier in Japan, and we get a lot of it where I live in Kyushu. When foreigners in Japan complain about not wanting to go out during the rainy season, I have no sympathy. It's not even cold out anymore. How hard is it to buy an umbrella and maybe rain boots? It does take a little more work to put on the kappa to stay dry during my bike commute, but as long as I can show up mostly dry, that works.
My rainy season (and typhoon season) survival kit is my kappa (jacket and pants), a hooded rain jacket, an umbrella, rain boots, dressy Crocs for when it's too hot for socks and rain boots, and a towel. For me, the worst part is that my glasses always need to be dried off and cleaned after a bike ride, so I can see again.
Usually it's also windy (especially during typhoon season) so I opt to ride a bike in kappa instead of walking with an umbrella. At least in our city, it's illegal to ride bikes while holding an umbrella, but that doesn't stop a lot of people from doing it. I don't think I could manage it but have never tried. The bus is an option, but one I've only used when I'm a little more dressed up or it's more important to stay dry. I guess I don't want to get used to taking the bus and get lazy.
The choice to go out or not (besides the required stuff like work) is up to you. If it's pouring and you're not up for braving it, there are so many options to stay busy at home. I'm the introverted type so it's no problem to stay indoors and read on a rainy day. At a certain point (one day indoors or more), I'll get restless and want to go out anyway, maybe during a break in the rain. Sometimes I burn off my energy inside by organizing, cooking a ton (stocking up on homemade frozen treats!), balcony gardening, and cleaning. There's always studying, catching up on sleep when it's cloudy so the sun doesn't wake you up too early, and making your summer plans in advance.
Rather than socializing outside, having friends over for a game night is planned. There are tons of other indoor options if you want to leave the house, including an indoor version of a firefly habitat in Fukuoka at Hakata Station. If you want to embrace the wet weather outside, I recommend going to a rotenburo style (outdoor) onsen. It's really peaceful to sit in a hot bath outdoors while it's raining. (It's also not usually crowded if it's rainy.) It's also ajisai (hydrangea) season at the same time as the rainy season.
For the most part, I'll be nerding out indoors as usual, with frequent escapes while there's a break in the rain. And looking for rainbows! That is, once the rainy season starts. As of now, we've had a couple weeks of beautiful mostly dry weather in late May. Getting outside every day and enjoying it while I can!