National / Media | Japan Pulse

Struggling to cope with a protracted rainy season that took forever to end

by Kaori Shoji

Contributing writer

Summer has been a damp squib so far this year for many parts of the country, with annual events canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on top of a protracted rainy season that seemingly took an eternity to end.

Last year’s rainy season hung around for a little longer than usual as well, but at least it had the good grace to bow out officially on July 25. This year… well, those sitting on the Kanto Plain, at least, were kept waiting until Aug. 1 for the season to officially end.

With gray skies persisting through the whole of July, meteorologists were equally puzzled by the length of the 2020 rainy season. Tokyo Shimbun has noted that analysts were currently receiving much less data than usual, a consequence of the reduction in commercial flights that has been seen since the emergence of COVID-19. These planes typically monitor weather patterns in addition to ferrying human cargo and so, with less data to analyze, it became harder to track the seasonal precipitation front.

Meanwhile, the country’s rainfall in recent years appears to be higher than annual averages. Some believe it’s a direct consequence of the ongoing global climate crisis, with some warning that Japan should pay more attention on this front.

However, many residents of Japan are more concerned about the rising infection rates than they are about climate change.

On Twitter, user @sokohouki noted that while he has taken measures to counter COVID-19, he didn’t stop to think about preparing to handle a protracted rainy season.

“I feel like this year’s rainy season has defeated me,” he says.

The constant gray skies over much of the country are sure to have a negative effect on mental wellbeing. According to Shinjuku Stress Clinic, more people appear to be suffering from “June disease,” or a depression that sets in with the arrival of the rainy season and doesn’t really lift until it ends.

Such depression is in part caused by a depletion of melatonin due to Vitamin D shortages as the number of sunshine hours drops off. Melatonin regulates the sleep cycle, and a lot of people complain about their circadian rhythms being disrupted, which in turn, magnifies the blues.

To counter such disruptions, the clinic recommends waking up early, especially on days when you can anticipate sunshine in the morning. Exercise and lukewarm baths are also believed to keep dark thoughts at bay.

Such advice appears to work for a blogger who goes by the name of Anbenkishimoto.

“It’s good to have a personal routine ready — one for sunny days and another for rainy days,” they write. “If it’s not raining, I go out for a run. If the weather is bad, I read or listen to the radio. In both instances, I get up early to start the day.”

Still, some struggle to overcome such negative thoughts, experiencing symptoms like dizziness, nausea and headaches. Online lifestyle magazine Esse notes that such spells are normal when humidity accompanies low air pressure, which is exactly what rainy season is all about. The important thing, the article suggests, is to know that you’re not alone in feeling awful and that the symptoms are bound to go away as soon as the sun comes out.

Until then, Twitter users have been sharing things to do when rain washes out play. While video games such as Animal Crossing have been a popular choice this year, some parents have asked their children to assist them with housework, including cleaning the bathroom. How better to teach children about the rainy season than getting them to clean up the consequences of all that humidity.

Another primary area of concern is laundry, with some even posting images and videos of the interior of their laundromat as they wait for a vacant dryer.

Now that the rainy season has formally ended, it’s a good idea to stretch your limbs and get the blood flowing to build up some resilience to physical elements.

The website of Radio Kansai warns that the need to wear masks after the rainy season concludes is likely to test everyone.

“It’s crucial to build resilience to wearing a face mask in hot weather,” the site says. “Keep fit and remember to drink lots of water, as one’s body temperature can go up 1 degree Celsius when wearing a mask.”

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