Let it rain

28 Jun

One more rainy day

Once again my mind is grey

This is what a rainy day can do

One more rainy day

One more rainy day

Deep Purple

One of the wettest June months is drawing to a close, but I’d like to take a moment to talk about the old calendar month and its relationship to the rain.

The Gregorian calendar has been used in Japan since 1873, and the names of the months changed from old descriptive names to a rather boring number system – First Month, Second Month… you get the picture.

Sometimes people use the old month names in place of the corresponding modern month, but the actual time frames for the months do not always align well. For example, I am writing this on the 28th of June, but under the old lunar calendar, it would be the second day of the sixth month. This website calculates and transposes the lunar calendar onto the modern calendar.

The old name for the 6th month was Minazuki (水無月), and the characters for this literally mean “month of no water”. Since it is still the height of the rainy season, such a name does not make sense.
Some folk etymologies try to justify it with explanations such as there being no water left in the heavens, but in fact the second character is only a phonetic value for the possessive particle which actually turns the meaning into “month of water”.

Tokorozawa has an average June rainfall of 157.2 mm. This year, 164 mm fell on June 6th alone.

The “Month of Water” has been apt this year.

水無月

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One Response to “Let it rain”

  1. Camper Star June 28, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    I’ve been here long enough to see the weather change. May used to be hot and muggy and June was summer. Now, not until the middle of July, that is, if we are lucky, we’ll see a summer to begin. Luckily for the last 3 years we’ve had summers that lasted until the mid of October. This year, rainy season has been short in Yamaguchi Pref and the temps have been rather mild for June.

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