Snow falls on Mt Fuji summit 3 days earlier than last year
I'm not a fan of winter here in Japan. Where we live winter is long and windy, but largely snow-free. It feels colder than it is because I can never get fully warm. We don't have much, if any, insulation in our apartment walls and central heating and air is almost unheard of. We leave most of the windows open at work, too. Walking the hallways here in January and February is like hanging out inside a meat locker. I can't imagine living up in Nagano or... holy moly... in Hokkaido. I'd freeze to death.
How do we manage even a little warmth? We wear layers, we drink hot tea, we eat nabe and miso soup, we sit in the kotatsu. We think warm thoughts. I dream of vacationing in Vietnam, Guam, Australia or Hawaii. Sometimes I set my clothes on fire or sit on a lit blowtorch. I take baths in molten steel. And still I spend the winter months with goosebumps and the shivers and feet of carved marble.
But Japanese winter has its beauties. A snow-capped Mt. Fuji is chief. We can sometimes see snow-covered mountains along the horizon from our car when we go to the supermarket. The skies become blue of seemingly impossible brightness and depth. Skirts and shorts tend to go higher up the thighs. Holiday illuminations at the station and in the trees downtown. Festively lit Tokyo on Christmas Eve with young couples walking hand-in-hand as George Michael and Paul McCartney serenade them with two of the most god-awful holiday songs ever written. Colonel Sanders in a Santa costume. Families gathering for New Years. Kohaku and Downtown on television and all the news programs and talk shows with merrily-decorated sets. The emptiness of Shinjuku on New Year's Day.
I love all of those things. But once we get past the first week of January, I'm ready for spring again. After the season fun, all I can think of is sakura time and when will it arrive? After the first of January, I have no use for winter.