A Snow Day

We’re having a very heavy snowfall today. This is unusual for Tokyo. In all the years I’ve been here, I’ve only seen a few this heavy. This morning’s rain morphed into snow around 12:00.

From my kitchen window
From my kitchen window, 1:00

Here I was, all snug and warm in my turtleneck/sweatshirt/fleece jacket/corduroy granny pants/fuzzy socks, in front of the kerosene heater, with a nice cup of hot coffee, thinking how lovely and convenient it is that today is a national holiday (Happy Coming of Age Day!), when the child inside woke up and started to yell.

“You must go outside! Right now! You can’t miss this! Go! NOW!”

When that child was young, a thousand lifetimes ago, she lived on a farm on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. Snow days (school cancellation) were common and exciting. Playing in snow was a big part of growing up—snowmen, snow angels, snowball battles. A wonderful winter treat was boiling maple syrup until it thickened then pouring it over fresh snow to make taffy. Getting dressed to go out only deepened the anticipation—long underwear, thick socks, snow pants, sweater, coat, scarf, hat, mittens, boots—all had to be piled on until the child looked like a padded Gingerbread Man.

There is something magical about snow, and Tokyo snow is particularly wonderful, partly because it’s so rare, but also because it’s thick, soft, wet and fluffy.

The park next door
The park next door, 2:30

Rochi is from Nagasaki so knows nothing about snow. He put on a pair of canvas sneakers and grabbed an umbrella. I insisted on digging out my snow boots and Cookie Monster hat as well as his hiking boots. (There is no point in arguing about umbrellas with someone who is both Japanese and stubborn.)


Alas, it’s 5:00 and the adventure is nearly over. We’ve morphed back into rain. Great thundering lumps of melting snow are hurtling themselves off the neighbor’s roofs. By morning, this may all be a memory, fleeting like sakura, an unparalleled beauty for the brief time it lasts.


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