If you visit Japan during anytime of the year, chances are very high that at least one of your pictures will look something like this:
It rains here. A lot.
This is especially true in Toyama, and even more so during tsuyu (梅雨), or the rainy season, which begins in Okinawa in early May and travels its way north until mid-July. Last week Typhoon Guchol roared its way across Japan, though luckily Toyama escaped with only some rain and mildly strong winds at night.
Here are three little things to help you get through the ame, rainy season or not.
1. Muji Umbrella
I’ve gone through at least five umbrellas during my two years in Japan, most falling victim to Toyama’s unyielding wind. You can buy umbrellas almost anywhere here, including 100 Yen stores and convenient stores, but the most reliable one I have had in Japan has been from Muji.
2. Say Aloha Pink Shoes
When my sister visited Japan in April, we spent two weeks in almost constant rain. On our trip, I lost a pair of shoes in Osaka and was left with my grey TOMs, which looked great but offered zero protection in the rain. On an aimless night in Osaka just after a downpour, we walked into a Don Quijote, a crazy busy Japanese discount store with hundreds of locations in Japan. Think of it like a Target or Walmart but on crack and steroids. In the sale section just past the entrance, I saw these cute pink waterproof(ish) shoes for about $7. They’re very sporty-looking but they do the trick for rainy bike rides. I couldn’t find a link to the shoes online, but if you’re in Japan, try the closest Don Quijote store.
There’s nothing like curling up on your bed or couch with a good book on a rainy Sunday afternoon when you have nothing else to do but open a world of imagination so different from the pitter patter outside.
But it’s 2012 and we live in the world of Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, iPads and Kindles. I still love paperbacks and hardcovers, but my go-to iPad application for lazy Sunday mornings is Flipboard, a social media/magazine aggregation application. That’s tech speak for saying that the geniuses behind Flipboard scour the Internet for great stories and combine it in one easy magazine where you can “flip” through any number of topics, from business news to travel stories. The stories spotlighted are always thought-provoking and the application’s format makes it extremely easy to browse and customize your version of Flipboard.