In Japan they say that the rain falls when the plums ripen. As such, in Japan the rainy season is associated with plums and vise versa.
The kanji for rainy season (梅雨) are litterely translated as “plum rain”.
Once the rain begins to fall in June, islanders rush to pick the plums from the trees.
Sometimes it’s the other way around though, and once the locals spot the yellow plums lying under the tree, they know that a month-long rain is on its way.
The humidity of the rainy season on Ojika Island makes one feel like being submerged under the water. While flowers blooming and birds singing in the refreshing summer rain is the bright side of the rainy season, there is another…darker side of things once rains hit Japan in June.
When choosing kanji (Chinese hieroglyphs) for “rainy season” first it was suggested to choose 黴雨 where 黴 means “mold”. Yes, that’s right, humidy=mold! Coming back from work in the evening you can smell it, as well as see it taking over everything inside your house.
Though 黴雨 was fair, it wasn’t poetic enough, thus the decision was made to go with 梅 meaning “plum” instead.
You cannot help but smile upon inhaling the air filled with the refreshing fragrance of freshly harvested plums.
While the rains continue, the plums are salted and stored in a cool dark place. After brining for at least 3 weeks, and once the rainy season ends, they are taken outside to dry in the bright sunlight.
3 days and pickled plums called umeboshi (梅干) in Japanese are completed!
They say that “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
Well, an umeboshi a day is just what one needs to survive the humidity Japanese summer.