Rains of 2020

The rainy season around here typically begins sometime in early-June though it may begin earlier or later depending on the year and any influences from El Nino or la nina. In my twenty years of rainy season experience, it usually begins with some rainy days prior to the official meteorological pronouncement that the baiuzensen (the Plum Rain Front) has come and the rainy season – tsuyu – is officially upon us. In many years, the final two weeks are filled with clear skies and sweltering hot weather. When the weather forecaster declares that the rainy season is over, I have many times responded by saying, “But it stopped raining two weeks ago!”

Unless you enjoy photographing wet scenery (as I do sometimes), it’s not very inspiring to wake up early and head out with an umbrella in one hand and a tripod in the other. In recent months, I have spent much more time on my other hobby: listening to music and researching about music history where it relates to heavy metal and progressive rock. My research and video presentation making keep me up late at night, so I don’t really want to think about getting up two hours later to drive out somewhere in the rain in hopes of finding something worthy of the time and mental effort (sleepy head!) required to make photographs seriously. Reflecting back on this year so far, I made two worthwhile trips in January and an unsuccessful hike in March. And that is all she wrote!

The good news is that during the period that I drove to work instead of taking the train, which was due to the threat of Covid-19, I found many lovely countryside scenes in other parts of Saitama which I had not yet explored. I even captured a few smart phone snaps that were not bad and made videos at a few places to include in videos I was making for our English School. However, I only brought the camera along once for the purpose of photographing scenery, and I was late leaving work that day and so I was only able to explore and shoot for about 20 minutes before the sun set behind the clouds and trees. That was back in April or May sometime.

Yes, that pesky virus has upset things a lot. Usually, I go away somewhere in July or August for an episode of Journeys In Japan. I always reckon that the gigs could stop any time, but I received a lot of praise for last year’s Hakusan episode and so I was certain I’d get a call again. However, location TV program shooting in Japan has been curtailed thanks to the virus.

So, with all the rainy days continuing week after week, bring heavy flooding to some parts of the country, and with the general discouragement towards traveling, I haven’t felt inspired to get out and do more exploring and photography.

But there’s a third hindering factor. As I discovered in January, many mountain roads were washed out in places during two typhoons we had last year. That means access to remote waterfalls and gorges, as well as hiking trails, has been cut off to vehicular traffic. Of course I could park and walk; I prefer to be on my feet anyway. But more walking adds to the time of trips that are already limited to a few hours away from home.

There is of course no really good reason for not going out if I really want to. I can try to get more sleep. I can still go to locations where the roads are intact. I can still bring adequate rain protection. I just haven’t really felt motivated to do so.

9 responses to “Rains of 2020

  1. Good to hear from you, and that you are still taking photos. Too bad about the “Journeys” series, but maybe you can find equal inspiration in the local mountains. After all, Tanabe Juji and Kogure Ritaro ended up preferring Chichibu to the Northern Alps …

    • Yes, well due to family circumstances, Saitama has become my oyster. I finished a book of photos late last year and I was preparing to promote it. But with all the changes the virus has brought, I’ve just become immersed in other distractions and passions. I need to get back into it!

  2. I really enjoyed that Hakusan episode.I hope to see more of you on Journeys and more lovely photography!

    I remember those slumps when I lived in Japan. I spent most of my time wandering around the Shikoku mountains almost every free chance I got. Then there were the moments that I never went out. I managed to stay busy doing other things like cooking and art.

  3. Thanks for the remarks about the Hakusan episode. It was recently re-aired or will be soon.

    I think I’ve experienced as you did in Shikoku many times during my life. I have an old diary from the early nineties with a few entries like that: “I haven’t been out for two months!” At least we have other passions to drive us!

  4. I have a DVR setup for over the air broadcast and public television here in the US airs Journeys in Japan each week. I usually save all the episodes for when I’m feeling nostalgic or want to see Japan.

    I secretly would love to be on that show one day!

    • It would be awesome if you could be on it!

      I just exchanged messages with the director today. He hasn’t had any work all year because of COVID-19.

  5. Journeys in Japan is one of my favorite NHK programs, and your Mt. Hakusan episode was one of my favorite in the entire series. Is has inspired me to make a similar journey in Japan, once global tourism resumes post-pandemic.

    • Thank you so much, Ann. I’m very glad to know that you enjoy Journeys In Japan and that the Hakusan episode made such a strong impression. I do hope you will be able to visit Japan and have a spectacular journey of your own soon.

      It seems no new episodes have been hot this year. My director told me last month that he has had no work this year. I hope it can resume soon.

      Stay healthy and take care!

  6. Sorry to hear about the effects of this dang virus on everyone’s livelihood. I recall NHK ran a feature recently about its effects on foreign workers in Japan, with a follow up on the same workers months later. Hopefully a vaccine will be forthcoming so that we can all resume life to as near normal as possible – including the resumption of international tourism in Japan.

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