Welcome to the latest post in this series about Japanese cultural events, traditions and more throughout different months of the year!
Due to how exceptionally hot and humid it can get, summer in Japan is by no means everyone's favourite season. I know I'll never forget the horror I felt the first time I saw a humidity reading of 100%...
Nonetheless, as long as you're able to find ways to cope, summer can still be an amazing time to visit Japan. Personally I'd still recommend it over winter simply because of how vibrant a season it is.
Today, let's delve into some fun facts about June in Japan. Here are some links in case you'd like to skip ahead to any particular part of the article:
- The Japanese Word for June
- ① June Traditionally Starts with a Wardrobe Change (衣替え - koromogae)
- ② June is Peak 梅雨 (tsuyu - rainy season)
- ③ One Popular 父の日 (chichi no hi - Father's Day) Gift in Japan is Eel
Note: none of the links in this post are affiliated, which means I don't make money when you click them.
The Japanese Word for June
As with all other months of the year, the most common Japanese word for June is a numerical one: 六月 (roku gatsu), which can also be written as 6月。
However, did you know there's another word for June?
Japan has only followed the Gregorian calendar since 1873, and as such, you may still occasionally come across older names of the months.
For June, this is 水無月 (minazuki), meaning "the month of water, when farmers flood paddy fields".
If you're interested in learning more about the (quite detailed and fascinating) Japanese calendar, I recommend this nippon.com page as a place to start.
Now that we're all clued up, let's have a look at three fun facts about life during June in Japan.
1. June Traditionally Starts with a Wardrobe Change (衣替え - koromogae)
衣替え (koromogae) is a traditional custom referring to a seasonal change in clothing that occurs twices a year: once on the 1st of June and again on the 1st of October. This practice came to Japan from China back in the Heian period and is one of many practices by which the change of the seasons is marked in Japanese traditional culture.
Although 衣替え (koromogae) is becoming less and less commonplace, it is still visible particularly in the change between summer and winter uniforms that occurs for school students, but also others such as civil servants and shop assistants. Naturally, the rigidity of the date upon which 衣替え (koromogae) falls can be unfortunate, as a cold snap in September, for example, can be quite unpleasant to endure in a summer uniform.
Do you think you'd observe 衣替え (koromogae) if you lived in Japan?
Find Out More About 衣替え (koromogae)
- Discover more about 衣替え (koromogae) via Japan Foundation Sydney.
- Read about 衣替え (koromogae) in Japanese (intermediate level) via Engoo.
While researching this post, I came across this song by tofubeats (トーフビーツ) called 衣替え (koromogae). Enjoy!
2. June is Peak 梅雨 (tsuyu - rainy season)
If you have plans to be in Japan during the month of June, be warned: it's going to be rainy!
Japan's rainy season is known as 梅雨 (tsuyu), which is made of two kanji: 梅 (plum) and 雨 (rain). When discussing 梅雨 (tsuyu), there are two words you're bound to come across:
- 梅雨入り (tsuyu iri - the start of the rainy season)
- 梅雨明け (tsuyu ake - the end of the rainy season)
While the rainy season occurs at slightly different times depending where you are in Japan, in Tokyo, it usually commences around the start of June, ending around mid-July (see data for 2023 in Japanese).
If rain really isn't your cup of tea, there is one way to escape it: flee to Hokkaido - the one place in Japan without a rainy season!
However, if you're happy to brave the odd 土砂降り (doshaburi - downpour), 梅雨 (tsuyu) can in fact be quite an atmospheric thing to experience. If you're familiar with J-pop or anime, you may already have noticed that it's quite a common theme in love stories. For me, the most memorable example of this is the animated film 言葉の庭 (Kotoba no niwa - The Garden of Words), which at the time of writing is available on Netflix UK (trailer below).
Find Out More About Japan's Rainy Season
If you'd like to learn more about Japan's rainy season while also practising your Japanese, here are a few resources I'd recommend:
3. One Popular 父の日 (chichi no hi - Father's Day) Gift in Japan is Eel
Do you know when Father's Day is celebrated in Japan?
To be honest, I had no idea, but I think that says more about me not knowing when Father's Day is in general, as it turns out it's the same date as both the UK and US: the third Sunday of the month. Oops...
What kind of gifts do you reckon are popular on 父の日 (chichi no hi - Father's Day) in Japan?
According to the Japanese website BEST PRESENT, the top three most popular gifts are:
- クラフトビール (kurafuto biiru - craft beer)
- ウナギ (unagi - eel)
- 甚平 (jinbei - a traditional type of informal summer clothing)
Why eel, you ask? A few reasons I found online (e.g. here) include the high-class feel of many eel dishes (e.g. うな丼 - una-don), its high nutritional value and supposed effectiveness against 夏バテ (natsu-bate - fatigue from summer heat).
Which of the three gifts above would you choose?
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