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black symbol for Rain in Japanese with water droplets.

50 Words to Describe Rain in Japanese


Perhaps no other language can be compared to Japanese when it comes to a sensitivity to define certain aspects of reality.

In collective imagination, Nature is the original source of poetry. There it is at its purest state and, in a way, at a stage that comes before and after language, simultaneously. ––As if the phenomena that take place there were poetic in and of themselves and did not need a resource to confine their beauty because this offers itself like that: gratuitously, in the moment’s circumstance.

Is it possible to know whether this is how it happens? To paraphrase a famous Buddhist koan, are the colors that arise with the first light of dawn beautiful if nobody is watching? Wittgenstein wrote: “What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.” He, like the Romantics, realized that there are parts of reality where language is insufficient.

And, regardless, our inclination to understand reality takes us to border on the aforementioned lands, to try and name them until we run out of expressivity. As Borges’ emblematic character, Funes, any one of us can think that the cloud that passed above just a moment ago can have the same name as that funny shaped cloud we saw yesterday. And this is justified: doesn’t the contingency of the world mean that everything is always different, that everything, in a way, is always new?

Japan Talk, a website devoted to those tiny details that can make a foreigner’s experience of the country that much better, features an article by John Spacey, where he shares 50 Japanese nouns that are used for rain ––50 different ways of describing situations that are also specific: rain falls while there is also fog; the extraordinary fact that rain can fall from cloudless skies; the first rain of summer or the rain that sneaks up on us while we’re driving.

Depending on how we see it, the number may seem either excessive or scarce. For some, the rain that falls in the evening is the same rain that has fallen since the beginning of time —and hence it can only be described by one word. Or, rain is always different, only belonging to the instant in which it irrupts in the world and therefore deserves a unique word for each occasion in which it happens.

In any case, we can attribute Japanese language with that special sensitivity for nuances and details, which is undoubtedly an essential condition required to read Nature’s poetry.


雨  あめ  ame  rain

白雨  はくう  hakuu  rain shower

急雨  きゅう  kyuu  rain shower

俄雨  にわかあめ  niwakaame  rain shower

降雨  こう  kou  rainfall

Rain by Intensity

弱雨  じゃくう  jakuu  weak rain

小雨  こさめ  kosame  light rain

小降り  こぶり  koburi  light rain

微雨  びう  biu  light rain

小糠雨  こぬかあめ  konukaame  fine rain

煙雨  えんう  enu  misty rain

細雨  さいう  saiu  drizzle

多雨  たう  tau  heavy rain

大雨  おおあめ  ooame  heavy rain

強雨  きょうう  kyouu  severe rain

横降り  よこぶり  yokoburi  driving rain

吹き降り  ふきぶり  fukiburi  driving rain

篠突く雨  しのつくあめ  shinotsukuame  intense rain

集中豪雨  しゅうちゅうごうう  shuuchuugouu  severe localized downpour

Rain Combos

風雨  ふう   fuu  wind and rain

雨氷  うひょう  uhyou  freezing rain

雨後雪  あめのちゆき  amenochiyuki  rain then snow

雪交じり  ゆきまじり  yukimajiri  snow and rain

雨混じりの雪  あめまじりのゆき   amemajirinoyuki  snow and rain

晴後雨  はれのちあめ  harenochiame  clear then rain

雨露  うろ  uro  rain and dew

Cold Rain

涼雨  りょうう  ryouu  cool rain

冷雨  れいう  reiu  chilly rain

寒雨  かんう  kanu  cold winter rain

氷雨  ひさめ  hisame  very cold rain or hail

Types of Rain

夜雨  やう  yau  night rain

梅雨前線  ばいうぜんせん  baiuzensen  seasonal rain

春霖  しゅんりん  shun rin  spring rain

春雨  しゅんう  shun u  gentle spring rain

緑雨  りょくう  ryokuu  early-summer rain

五月雨  さみだれ  samidare  early-summer rain

秋雨  あきさめ  akisame  autumn rain

秋霖  しゅうりん  shuu rin  autumn rain

凍雨  とうう  touu  winter rain

十雨  じゅうう  juuu  refreshing rain once in ten days

恵雨  けいう  keiu  welcome rain

人工雨  じんこうう  jinkouu  artificial rain

放射能雨  ほうしゃのうう  houshanouu  radioactive rain

天泣  てんきゅう  tenkyuu  rain from a cloudless sky

Time and Rain

雨模様  あまもよう  amamoyou  signs of rain

雨催い  あまもよい  amamoyoi  threat of rain

雨上り  あまあがり  amaagari  after the rain

雨後  うご  ugo  after rain

雨間  あまあい  amaai  break in the rain

晴一時小雨  はれいちじこさめ  hareichijikosame  brief light rain

霖  ながめ  nagame  long rain

霖雨  りんう  rinu  long rain

長雨   ながめ  nagame  long rain

陰霖   いんりん  inrin  long rain

夕立  ゆうだち  yuudachi  sudden evening rain

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