Just as I was saying to myself, “All this sunshine is really starting to bum me out,” along comes the rainy season to soak all of Japan in wonderful, nourishing water.
I Jest. The rainy season is no one’s favorite time of year, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t have its own special allure. In the intervals between periods of rain and (ulp) thunder, famous areas like Taisho Pond become shrouded in thick fog, bringing a serene, sometimes eerie ambience to the surroundings. It can make for atmospheric moments and some seriously contemplative walks alone through the marsh. We can also thank water for the ever-increasing variety of plant life appearing in Kamikochi. Yes yes, it’s all part of the cycle.
The term “ame agaru” (雨あがる) is well known to all Japanese as the time when a long period of rain lifts. However, it can also be used to describe a momentary period of clearer skies between bouts of rainfall. Yesterday, for example, periods of rain were brief and yielded to blue skies in the afternoon. Well, relatively blue. The clouds have a way of poking around for a while afterwards.
One of the flowers most commonly associated with the rainy season is the Japanese Rhododendron, as seen here:
And here we see a species of Meehania, a cousin to the “creeping mint” which blooms in some areas of the United States at this time of year:
And now, for some of the haunting views of Taisho Pond, mentioned above (courtesy of the folks at the Taishoike Hotel website):
June may not be the most scenic time in Kamikochi, but as you can see, it is among the most serene. Pardoxically, it is the “calm before the storm” of one of the park’s busiest periods: the post-tsuyu summer months.
I’d swear there’s a woman under that water, waiting to throw a sword to an aspiring king…
As we await the onset of summer proper–the real “ame agaru”–it’s a good time to pause and reflect on the wonder and serenity of Kamikochi throughout the year.
Lastly, you know how we’re always yelling at you to pack your rain gear? Well, there’s never been a better time or place for it. You can sort of get away with and umbrella and sensible footwear around Kappa Bridge, but the full “kappa” (waterproof jacket and trouser set) is always an essential part of a hiker’s kit. So, you know, pack your rain gear!
Whether you wait out the rainy season or brave the elements, we wish you an unforgettable visit to Kamikochi. As always, comments and questions may be posted on our Facebook page, so by all means do: https://www.facebook.com/kamikochi
Sources of Information:
Kamikochi Taishoike Hotel website: http://www.taisyoike.co.jp
National Park Guide website: http://npg-alps.net