Nendo’s Latest Installation is an Homage to the Many Words for Rain in the Japanese Language

nendo rain bottle (3)

They say that the Inuit have 50 words to describe snow. Well in Japan, where it rains a lot and people love to talk about the weather, the Japanese language has over 50 nouns for rain. There’s rain showers, weak rain, light rain, fine rain, misty rain, heavy rain, intense rain, downpour, localized downpour, chilly rain, rain and snow, rain at night, spring rain, and 2 words for early summer rain, as well as autumn rain.

Japanese design troupe nendo (previously) chose just 20 words for rain and artistically captured each in a water bottle. They used clear acrylic bottles to create delicate dioramas to illustrate the different types of rain. The installation was on display earlier this month at Maison & Objet in Paris, where the designers had been asked to consider the relationship between language and design for the “word” themed exhibition.

nendo rain bottle (1)

nendo rain bottle (2)

mizore (霙) meaning rain mixed with snow

nendo rain bottle (4)

left: niwaka-ame (俄雨) meaning a sudden rainfall

nendo rain bottle (5)

left: kisame (樹雨) meaning rain that falls off tree branches | right: shigure (時雨) meaning autumn rain

source: mocoloco


  1. This is a lovely story, but it would be nice to change the phrase you use for the indigenous tribe story about the words for snow. Eskimo is not particularly nice, and was considered an insulting phrase for the tribe in question. Innuit is much better. Such a nice essay ought to not start on such a jarring note.

  2. I find this so interesting. I stumbled upon a link to this site while on a German blog–I’m fascinated by languages and love learning about how a culture helps form the words of a language. Really beautiful exhibition idea. Thanks for sharing!

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