Friday, June 13, 2014

Rainy Season

We made the bad good decision of coming to Japan during the month of June.** June is rainy season in Japan. You might think you know what that means, but if you've never experienced it, you don't. My first rainy season back when I came to Japan as a junior high English teacher, everything molded. My clothes, my shoes, and even my books. Soon enough, I learned to run my AC non-stop and to buy little plastic boxes full of water-absorbing material to help suck the water out of the air.

The next rainy season, and all rainy seasons after, nothing else molded, but I never quite figured out how not to get so wet. This was especially true of the rainy season we lived in Tokyo. Sky and I made the trek to his preschool at 8 a.m. each morning. On days when it didn't rain, we traveled by bicycle. On the days when it rained, however, we walked. I refused to be like the other moms who wore fashionable galoshes (as if there is such a thing), and instead opted for water-resistant hiking shoes. The shoes actually kept my feet pretty dry under normal circumstances, but they could do nothing to prevent  the dousing of my lower extremities with the giant splashes Sky made in every puddle between our house and school. They also didn't help much with the water he consistently dumped from his umbrella into my shoes. By the time I got Sky to school after our 7-10 minute walk (the time varied based on the number of tempting puddles), I was always thoroughly drenched.

Needless to say, I've never been a fan of rainy season, which makes the timing of this trip somewhat ironic. I did what I could to be prepared for it. I made sure all the kids' clothes were light-weight and quick drying. I packed a pair of Crocs for each of them to wear on the days we'd be traipsing around in the pouring down rain. I brought umbrellas and light rain jackets. I packed waterproof, quick-drying shoes. Still, nothing can quite prepare you for three kids carrying umbrellas making their way down a crowded Tokyo sidewalk. Really.

Fortunately, several days into our stay, we headed north to Akita where the rainy season hadn't started yet. We managed to squeeze in four glorious, rain-free days before it caught back up with us. Once it did, though, Ren and the kids were stuck inside our fairly tiny apartment*** while I taught my class. The only thing worse than wrangling three kids carrying umbrellas through the pouring rain is doing it with a bad back (or so I assume).

The first day, we were all optimistic that books on the Kindle, origami, and plenty of drawing paper and pens would keep the kids busy. That lasted for about seven minutes. Soon, we had this:

The problem with this, however, as Sky pointed out, is that there is only so much kid-appropriate TV one can access (at least without a pretty decent cable package) on Japanese television, so soon the kids were forced to break free from the screen and think outside the box (or inside, depending on your preferences):

Eventually, you run out of boxes, though. And, then, there is only becoming one with the environment--giving into the weather and going with the flow (of water down your back from one of the kids' mishandled umbrella). Hopefully, at least, you can do it in style and maybe even channel Totoro in the process:

A neko bus would TOTALLY make everything better, rainy season or not.

**Flying to Japan in early June is at least $400/person cheaper than it is in July. There are five of us. The math for going to Japan later in the summer is not in our favor.

***To be fair, the apartment was actually pretty huge by Japanese standards, but we were still 5 people in three rooms (if you include the bathroom) for eight days.

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