I hear you movie fanatics choose movies to watch according to specific situations. Here are some movie recommendations for a rainy summer afternoon.

Rainy summer afternoon is a perfect time for a movie.
Photo by Brianna Martinez from Pexels
Rainy summer afternoon is a perfect time for a movie.
Photo by Brianna Martinez from Pexels

It’s humid. It’s muggy. It’s hot. Looking through the window you see the color green everywhere; different layers of green. The weather exhausts people, making you feel slumberous and lazy. Sometimes rainy days make you want to just lay back on the bed, or lounge in an armchair and watch a movie.

I bet you would like to watch something relaxing, that won’t shock you out of the bed or make you drop your snack. These five Japanese movies are perfect for that exact situation. Gentle-colored pictures and quiet narratives present soothing emotions. Even in the plainest scenes, you can sense its visual beauty. The simple and pure lives presented in the movies will touch you.  

After the Storm (2016)

The protagonist, Ryota, is an idle private detective whose novelist career died down after the initial hype of his debut. He struggles to make a living and throws what money he does make into gambling. After his wife divorces him, monthly visits with his only son become his biggest pleasure in life. One night, a typhoon traps the divorced family at his mother’s place. A night filled with reminiscence brings them a sense of reconnection that has long gone.

As an adult, Ryota is not successful. Being asked, “What did you want to be? Did your dream come true?” by his son, he can only answer, “Dad’s dream has yet to come true.” He is still trying to get his life back on track; to be a good son and father in his way. He gives her mother pocket money even though he is poor. To get his son a decent sneaker, he marks a flaw on them and asks for a discount from the shop assistant.

You can spot several types of love between characters in this movie. At one moment, Ryota admitted to his mother, “Sorry, I am an unpromising child.” She replied with her wisdom of life, “Happiness is something you can only have after sacrifice.” Warm moments like that dilute the depressing color of the movie. The overall vibe of the movie is slow and soothing, which will fit in your humid summer afternoon mood.

Many components in the movie may remind you of a rainy summer in your memory. On the night of the typhoon, strong wind and storms keep people in their homes. That’s a valuable opportunity for families to gather and create some good memories. The self-made ice cream by Yoshiko is another summer highlight. Coming home on a hot afternoon, sweaty, nothing is more wonderful than fresh ice cream taken out from the freezer.

Our Little Sister (2015)

This movie is also directed by the Japanese filmmaker Hirozaku Kore-eda, whose gentle, quietly profound style is throughout almost all his works. He likes to depict domestic tales, and present simple details about life and connections between people. His characters often speak philosophically, leaving us to reflect on our own life.

In the movie, three siblings live in a big house inherited from their family. With a father who ran away with his lover, and a mother who left them to their grandmother, the oldest sister took the responsibility of taking care of the family after their grandmother deceased. The core story begins after the trio meets their little half-sister at the funeral of their father, and the big sister invites her to live with them.

Through the lens focused on the four female characters, the audience witnesses the change of seasons, the constant state of the big family house, and the town with warm-hearted neighbors who know each other well. summer embeds itself in the daily details in the characters’ life. We feel the presence of summer in the cricket the second sister met and screamed about after her shower, or the family lunch where the sisters sit facing the backyard among the sound waves from cicadas.

Plums are another key component in the movie. They connect the generations of the family through plum wines, some of which are made by their grandmother and saved for a couple of years. Ripe plums are harvested in summer. By preserving fruits in wines in large and small transparent bottles for years, you get wonderful plum wines. The longer, the better. Even though you may have never picked up plums or made plum wines before, you may connect the picture of those green round fruits with a lovely humid summer afternoon.

Departures (2008)

As the winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Award at the 81st Academy Awards, “Departures” received world-wide acclaim. The hero, Daigo Kobayashi, is a cellist. The orchestra he works for dismisses after four months. In debt for his expensive cello, he has to find another job. Due to a misunderstanding and twist of fate, he ends up being a mortician—a traditional Japanese professional who performs rituals for the dead on their final road to the afterlife.

Pragmatic Kobayashi gives up his dream career and tries to convince his wife to accept his new job. He has to face prejudice from society against people who deal with the dead, but Kobayashi found his true calling. Witnessing the hero’s transformation, the audience recognizes the dignity and importance of the profession. Even the most humbled occupation has its value. Likewise, the dead, no matter what their life before was like, every one of them deserves a formal and sainted ceremony with dignity.

On a summer rainy afternoon, you may feel a little blue. Sometimes it’s good to be immersed in that blue. The vibe of the movie meets you in the dark, and gradually it transitions to a brighter tone, leaving you with a hopeful ending. You cannot sulk in that rainy summer afternoon forever, you will need to get out eventually. The refreshing ending of this movie will have you ready to embrace the following summer days.

Whisper of the Heart (1995)

If you find yourself lying down on a rainy summer afternoon, confused about your future, watching a movie that can boost you up isn’t a bad idea. It should be a movie that injects strength to your body, gets you up, and prepares you for a following sunny day. It should be a movie that reminds you of your dream.

“Whisper of the Heart” is a 1995 Japanese animated romantic drama film directed by Yoshifumi Kondō and produced by Studio Ghibli. The story centers on a 14-year-old girl, Shizuku Tsukishima, who loves reading and writing, and a boy, Seiji Amasawa, who aspires to be a violin maker and attends the same school as Shizuku. They know each other through a series of coincidences. For example, they first noticed each other’s name through checkout cards on the same books borrowed from the library. Shizuku follows a cat after riding a train, and the cat guides her to an antique store, which turns out to be owned by Seiji’s grandfather.

Teenage love blossoms as they learn more about each other. It’s a kind of love that motivates you to become a better version of yourself. Inspired by Seiji’s resolution to become a violin making master, Shizuku constantly asks herself about her writing dream. Working long hours, she finishes her first novel, and realizes that she needs to learn more about writing. Having given up her idea to quit school, she is more clear about what she wants and how she is going to realize her dream.

A Story of Yonosuke (2013)

Rainy days can have us reflecting on deep thoughts. “A Story of Yonosuke” will have you enveloped in thoughts like, what’s the meaning of my life? Will I as an individual leave some influence on others when I no longer exist? What do our lives really mean to those around us?

The movie started with an ending—the protagonist dies at a young age. People who appeared in his life start to reflect their past encounters with him. We follow their memories, trying to paint the picture of this young person’s life. In the meantime, a mystery remains throughout most of the movie—how did he die?

The hero, Yonosuke, is a quirky guy from a small town moving to Tokyo for his undergraduate studies. His outgoing, warm-hearted and unworldly personality naturally attracts several friends, among which is our heroine, Shoko. Coming from a rich family, Shoko is a girl perfectly protected from outside society. She fell in love with Yonosuke, and the two developed a romantic relationship.

The movie cuts between characters’ memories of Yonosuke and their current life after his death. Yonosuke’s encounters with these characters influenced them in some way. As the audience we are left pondering the impact of our encounters on others, and the influence of those we meet on who we are today.

Whether it’s the tone, the plot, or theme, these are the types of movies you’ll want to watch on a rainy summer afternoon. Do you have a list of movies for a rainy summer afternoon? Comment below and let me know!