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  • Juju Kurihara

Japanese Onomatopoeia - the sound of rain

Updated: May 10, 2023

I woke up with the sound of the rain. I opened the blinds and saw the floor of the patio was wet. The rain continued falling all morning, shito shito (しとしと).


There are several different onomatopoeias in Japanese. Japan is a rainy country and it´s natural to develop different words for rain.

Shito shito is when the rain falls constantly but now a downpour. Everything seems to be wrapped by a cape of water. For me Shito shito rain gets to my bone. This rain suits an old Japanese traditional garden somewhere in Kyoto. Watching the moist stones and leaves has an omomuki (趣/tasteful).


With this type of rain, my sensation is divided in two. One, "No way, I´m not gonna go out to get soaked". I start to feel my trousers stick to my legs and soaked socks inside the trainers begin to make squeaky noise... Brrr, no way! Two, "I wanna go out without an umbrella and get soaked completely. Perhaps I can even dance in the rain!", which I haven´t done it until now.


Potsu potsu (ぽつぽつ) can be used at the very beginning of raining. Some drops fall down from the sky and hit you potsu.... potsu.....

The sky gets dark and people look up anxiously. Some start to walk faster hoping to get under a roof before the rain catches you.

Para Para (ぱらぱら) is similar to potsu potsu. Para Para is more random as if some one is sprinkling some water by hand. Sometimes it rains even though the sun is up but it stops soon while you are wondering weather you go back for an umbrella or not. For me, Para para is a little more drops than potsu potsu. But Potsu Potsu rain to me is either the beginning of the actual rain or the rain is about to stop.

From my window, I can see a small crack of the cloud and see a line of the sun. Well, at the end it´s not so bad for a beginning of the weekend. I´ll go for a walk now.


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