It is summer in Tokyo, and there is always so much to do and see. Every weekend there are gatherings and festivals in the parks, shrines to visit, Tokyo Tower, Skytree, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Asakusa, Meiji, Senso-ji… and everywhere is the wonderful Japanese food and drink. Beer gardens open in the parks, tourists are everywhere, and the schools will soon let out for summer holidays. The city is big and beautiful, and always busy.
And… summer in Tokyo brings sweltering hot weather. With temperatures in the 80’s and wickedly high humidity, the heat index is often in the high 90’s and low hundreds. The sunshine can be intense, and the sweat begins to pour as soon as you walk out the door. Seeking shade is important, and the Japanese often wear hats and long sleeves and walk under sun umbrellas to protect themselves from the heat and sun. Almost everyone carries a little washcloth to wipe the sweat… little sweat towels are sold in all the stores.
The weather can also be very unpredictable. June and July are considered the “rainy season,” and rainstorms and showers can pop up suddenly. It is always a good idea to have an umbrella handy. Despite the rain, everyone is out and about. Life goes on… even in the rain. Men and women go to work, children go to school… dogs still have to be walked… groceries still have to be bought… even on a rainy day in Tokyo.
Last weekend, a walk across the Rainbow Bridge over Tokyo Bay, brought us to Odaiba and the Lantern Festival on Odaiba Beach — in honor of the Marine Day holiday (a relatively new national holiday in Japan, to show gratitude for the gifts from the sea.) Party boats (small dinner cruise boats) from all over the bay area gathered in front of Odaiba beach to watch the lighting of hundreds of colored paper lanterns arranged in elaborate designs in the sand of the beach. As darkness fell the lanterns glowed and the people milled around enjoying the surreal light. Then… sudden and unpredicted, the rain began to fall. One by one, the lanterns collapsed and went dark. The end of the Marine Day holiday.