When I first moved to Japan, one odd thing people kept saying to me, and rather proudly, is that Japan has all four seasons. Which I took as meaning they had very distinct seasons. Maybe that’s true further north, but not so much in the Kanto region, whose weather is more akin to North Carolina and really is missing a proper winter. I however, say that Japan has 7 seasons. Starting in January, they are thus:

Winter- in the Kanto it’s not that bad. What makes it horrible is Japan doesn’t believe in insulation. It has the benefit of being able to leave things like milk out on the counter. You may get a little snow in late January or February.

Hay fever season- Usually starts in mid to late February. It is heralded by plumb blossom (ume). Back stateside, I only get it a little, but in Japan I get it severely. It is from the Japanese pine and a large percentage of the population is allergic. The explanation rumor of why so many people are allergic to this tree is that it was part of a large reforestation project that wasn’t properly thought through, and oops… Most everyone is allergic to the pollen. Every drug store in Japan sets up hay fever sections this time of year.

Spring- If it wasn’t for hayfever, this would be my favorite season. Instead I hate it. The weather is nice, but I have to seal the windows. The cherry blossoms in Japan are gorgeous, but I have to view them at my own risk. The ambient rejuvenation of the Japanese people is palpable though, and there is an undercurrent of excitement in the air which is a pleasure to see. Hanami parties are a great time to see the high strung, pressure cooked Japanese have a chance to unwind and enjoy themselves.

Rainy season- I don’t mind this season at all. It just rains more than usual, and that keeps the temperatures down. Summer- this is kind of a crossover between hot and wet. Usually a few weeks in July.  Mold can be a big problem here.

Hotter than under the gooch season- late July to early September. The rain stops and all that wetness gets blasted by an aggressive and oppressive sun. Japan’s native hate for insulation strikes again and it is a season where you constantly wear a sticky glaze of sweat. If you use an A/C, your price shoots through the roof. My August days are usually spent in a cold bathtub, reading my kindle.  The bugs are all out in force, and if you like cicadas… plenty of them too.

Autumn- After the humid nightmare, this season is a relief. It evokes the feeling of finishing a hard, laborious day of manual labor, and then sitting under a tree and having a cold beer as you look back on your day. If you are near a forested area, the autumn leaves are nice too.


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