梅雨 (つゆ/rainy season)

Enough blather about Nero, the Church, and the Devil! As there has been absolutely NO Tokyo content so far, I thought I’d bring you to the here and now – it’s “Rainy Season” here in Tokyo.

When I first moved here, I couldn’t bear what seemed an unduly long stretch of grey skies, misty rain, and more grey skies – I still find it hard to take, but one thing that has made it a lot more bearable over the past few years is the fact that, with rainy season, the hydrangeas (紫陽花 – あじさい/ajisai) are in full bloom everywhere. If you live in Tokyo, or you’ve been to Tokyo, one thing you’re probably acutely aware of is that, even in the most limited of spaces, people grow plants and flowers everywhere. What this means is, if you get off the big streets and into the neighbourhoods, you will see a year-round ongoing array of flora that is just amazing.

The fact that it doesn’t really ever drop below zero helps, but, more than that, there is a real devotion to growing flowering plants here. Often they serve as a way of marking time, marking the seasons: we move from camelia (つばき) in the winter to plum (うめ) to daphne (じんちょうげ) to cherry (さくら) to azaleas (つつじ) to irises (しょうぶ) to hydrangeas. Each one becomes inextricably linked in the mind to a particular time of year. What amazes me most, however, is that I can turn a corner and see something like this that wasn’t there last week and will be gone too soon…