Rainy season began this month for most of Japan, known as
梅雨 or “tsuyu”. The two kanji selected to make this word should give a visual: the first character meaning “plum” usually pronounced “うめ”, (I made another post about words with “irregular” readings, which can be found by clicking here), and the second character meaning “rain”, usually pronounced
“あめ”. When you put the two concepts together, plum rain, you get 梅雨（つゆ） meaning the “rainy season”. Could it be because there are plum-sized raindrops pouring from the sky? No, it’s because this is the time the plums (or Japanese apricots in this case) ripen, which coincides with it raining a lot.
When it is an unusually dry season, known as 空梅雨（からつゆ）、literally meaning “empty rainy season”. The lack of rain has taken an impact in some areas, with rice crops in 長野県 (Nagano Prefecture) being affected and the 水見色川 (Mizumiirogawa) river running through 静岡 (Shizuoka) with water levels low causing some fish to die. The rainy season has only just begun though, so hopefully that will change soon and it will rain more like it should.
Maybe too many people are hanging てるてる坊主！
Pictured to left are some
They are made out of white cloth or paper by kids, and hung outside the day before good weather is desired. They do look like ghosts, but the name teru teru bouzu means “shine shine monk”. There’s a children’s folk song or 童歌（わらべうた) written in the early 1920’s about about them, which goes like this:
いつかの夢の空のよに With a sky we dream of one day,
晴れたら金の鈴あげよ If it’s sunny I’ll give you a golden bell.
てるてるぼうず、てるぼうず Teru-teru bouzu,
明日天気にしてをくれ Please make the weather good tomorrow
私の願いを聞いたなら If you listen to my request,
甘いお酒をたんと飲ましょ We’ll drink tons of sweet sake.
てるてるぼうず、てるぼうず Teru-teru bouzu,
明日天気にしてをくれ Please make the weather good tomorrow.
それでも曇って泣いてたら But if it’s cloudy and your crying (raining),
そなたの首をちょんと切るぞ I’ll cut your head right off.
The time of entering rainy season is known as 梅雨入り or “tsuyuiri”, which begins at the the very beginning of June (early May for 沖縄 (Okinawa) while 北海道 (Hokkaido) in the most northern part of Japan doesn’t have a rainy season) , extending into the middle of July、making Japan a pretty wet country compared to most (with an average for the country of approx. 60 inches a year, compared to a “rainy” place like Seattle that gets 40 inches annually).
While on the subject of rain, there are quite a few a lot of words in Japanese that relate to rain. Below are some of them (with a few that are mostly seen in poetry):
梅雨（つゆ）： rainy season
空梅雨（からつゆ）: unusually dry rainy season
梅雨入り（つゆいり）： entering rainy season
梅雨明け（つゆあけ）： leaving rainy season
土砂降り（どしゃぶり）： raining cat’s and dogs
狐の嫁入り（きつねのよめいり）：rain shower while the sun shines
豪雨（ごうう）： torrential rain
大雨（おおあめ）： heavy rain
小雨（こさめ）： light rain
パラパラ： word for the sound of falling rain (drops)
ざあざあ： word for the sound of pouring rain
晴後雨（はれのちあめ）： clear, then rainy (weather forecast)
五月雨（さみだれ): early-summer rain
夕立（ゆうだち）： sudden evening rain
喜雨（きう）: rain that comes after a drought
時雨（しぐれ）：rain in late fall/early winter
If you know any more rain related vocab you would like to share, please leave them in the comments!