Japan’s Rainy Season (Tsuyu)

In early summer, most parts of Japan get visited by the so called Tsuyu, a rainy season.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the rainy season is caused by the collision of cold northerly and warm southerly air masses, which results in a relatively stable bad weather front over the Japanese archipelago for several weeks. In Tokyo the 2020 rainy season is estimated to last from June 8 through July 20.

Fortunately it does not rain every day in Tokyo and the JMA provides some interesting probability data. The chance of rain on any given day is 45% while the probability of sunny weather is 27%. On the rainy days, half see only light rain, while the other half see more substantial amounts of precipitation.

The rainy season is generally not considered the most ideal time to tour Japan. However, with the smaller crowds and fewer tourists it does have its advantages. In particular many of the temples, parks and gardens are very attractive in the rain. So, as a resident it is a great opportunity to grab your umbrella and go explore the city!

Of my many wonderful memories of early visits to Japan, one involved my first experience at an open air hit spring, called an onsen, on a rainy day. For me, there is nothing more relaxing than sitting in an onsen and listening to the patter of the light rain.

Obviously, the Covid-19 pandemic may limit some rainy season enjoyment. But, overall, I am grateful for the opportunity to be living in Tokyo!

Bad English In Japan –– A Conspiracy Theory

I have been coming to Japan for business and pleasure for over twenty years. For much of 2000-2002, I lived and worked in Japan as a senior executive of a global technology business. I have been married to a Japanese citizen for sixteen years and in October 2019 I declared Tokyo as my legal residence.

Over that time, I have developed a deep understanding of and respect for Japanese culture. I have adapted to the Japanese life-style and observance of traditions, customs and social rules. I enjoy Japanese cuisine. I have studied Japanese history, its political system and business practices.

Sadly, my Japanese language proficiency is near zero. Not that I have not tried to learn to speak the language but frankly I only half jokingly tell friends that I still have trouble with the English language! I clearly have a language learning deficiency.

That said, I am most comfortable in my adopted home, effectively using my limited linguistic knowledge, some translation technology and the ability to understand more than I can speak the language due in part to the non-verbal nature of much that is being communicated.

Similarly, most Japanese understand and speak little English. I’ve often wondered why that is so and I’ve heard a number of reasons. Four often advanced are (1) the fact that English is based on a totally different phonetic system; (2) because the schools focus on teaching grammar and limited conversation skill development; (3) because most Japanese rarely get a chance to learn through interacting with English-speaking people; and (4) there is little incentive to speak English or indeed any other “foreign” language.

I believe the lack of incentive the most troubling and was surprised to see a featured article in a recent issue of The Japan Times headlined: “Bad English In Japan –– A Conspiracy Theory.” While the article does not support the view that the Japanese bureaucracy and political leadership have engaged in a conspiracy, it does raise an interesting issue related to Japan’s troubled socio-economic-demographic future:

Fear of a Brain Drain?

Perhaps their thinking is that the loss of multitudes of Japanese in their prime working years to more opportunity-rich countries overseas could quickly turn a severe (but manageable) demographic decline into a death spiral.

Driven by a fear of mass emigration and brain drain, is the bureaucracy engaged in a conspiracy to keep English down? Probably not. But, whether by design, ambivalence or ineptitude, government reforms to English-language instruction will forever be too little and too late.

The takeaway for Japanese who want to learn English well: You are on your own.

Read the article here:


A warm hello to my few but faithful blog readers.

It has been some time since my last post. My absence reflects the funk I have experienced, an emotional state due in part to the Convid-19 pandemic. It has been easy to rationalize that given circumstances and associated self-isolation, there is little happening in the unusually quiet life of Tokyo today to share with you.

However, compared to what is happening all around us in the world today, Keiko, Toma and I are doing well. We are safe, healthy and happy. With Keiko required to work remotely from home, her presence is a welcomed gift due to the Convid-19 experience that has made this period of isolation more tolerable.

Observing the government’s stay-in-place policies and common-sense precautions, with some very rare exceptions I remain indoors, venturing out for enjoyable walks with Toma, infrequent trips to the food and veggie stores, and a daily 3-4 mile solitary health walk.

We did have a “breakout” this past weekend, taking a 30km bike ride through some of central Tokyo on Saturday and then our first train ride in a month (hard to believe I live in Tokyo where the train travel is a daily ritual!) to get hair cuts and celebrate Mother’s Day with Keiko’s mom.

As an only child, I have always found ways to satisfy my curiosity or amuse myself. Among my ways to keep busy, I have enjoyed finding new recipes to refine my cooking talents and purchased an espresso machine to test my barista skills.

I spend much of my time reading newspapers, books and on-line materials. The daily New York Times International Edition opens windows to world issues and the exploration of the fields of arts and culture, science and technology and other topics that would not generally capture my attention.

I have also spent much time observing and reflecting on a variety of social, economic and political topics. And that explains the other cause for my darker inner mood.

Despite my best efforts, it is hard for me to ignore is the state of political affairs in the United States.

I have been writing my thoughts. Most have simply been done for my personal intellectual satisfaction, occasionally shared with close friends in e-mails or articulated in Zoom conversations. It has helped me to deal with my concern and sense of rage. I think I will stand up and feel better!