The Rainy Season is here in Osaka, and to the consternation of everybody, it arrived on time. Every year, the Japanese government announces the official beginning of the rains with much fanfare around now, and then, usually, nothing happens until June. “No Rainy Season this year?” I often ask during a particularly parched early June. “Oh no,” is the reply, “the Rainy Season began on May 21st at 5:30am,” or whatever the official date was. Usually, it officially ends sometime in early July, but in past years I’ve been drenched during many a summer festival (matsuri, 祭, which begin in mid-July and continue into August). “The Rainy Season is really hanging on this year,” I say. “Oh no,” comes the inevitable reply, “the Rainy Season ended on July 12th at 4:56pm. This is just rain.” For some people, I guess, a fictitious schedule is better than no schedule at all.
The skies opened up last night, Saturday. After reading till about 2 – I’m currently in a torrid love-hate relationship with the novel, Oh Play That Thing, by Roddy Doyle – I shut off the light and lay in bed listening to the rain bouncing off the balcony rail. Around 3, I went out and stood on the balcony – the rain was falling straight and heavy, the lights from Abiko glowed hazily in the distance, and the air was humid, but cool. The plants (herbs mostly) looked happy. Directly ahead, across the small street behind this building, is the neighbour’s expensively-manicured back garden, which – because it’s in my line of sight when I sit out and eat my breakfast – I think of as my own (although the rich old git would not be pleased to know it). His fuchsia azaleas and carefully deformed pine tree dripped in the glow of a porch light. The traffic light at the corner, where the bikers like to rev their engines, was quietly blinking yellow – no macho Japanese biker dude would risk getting his hair wet on a night like this. The light reflected off a fence, around a small cabbage patch, which features a poster of the bloated government backbencher who represents south Osaka in Parliament. The prime ministers in Japan have been coming and going with such admirable speed lately that the farmer, an obvious LDP supporter, has given up continually replacing their posters and has resorted to one of the local hack, who isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
After 20 minutes or so, I went back to bed, to sleep and dream peacefully, until the woman next door began driving nails into the wall at 7:30. Osaka, on a late, rainy night, is a peaceful, enchanting place. Osakans, though, are sometimes another matter.