Blog

Tohoku Winter

This year's winter was one of the shortest and warmest I've experienced during my six years in snowy, rural Japan. Maybe it's just me getting used to the cold temperatures, but the actual days of snowfall were certainly fewer than previous seasons. That being said, when the snow falls, it feels like there is no end and the four or so months to spring will never come.

Yet for the people who live here, and other places with drastic changes in the seasons, it's a normal way of life. Every day old Japanese women push their walkers through the snow out and back to the grocery store. No one wants to hear complaints about how cold or hot the weather is here - everyone's living here and experiencing the same shit too and they've been doing it on repeat for a long time.

And while it's easy to get into a rut during winter, there's a beauty to winter wonderland in rural Japan. There's an odd silence that accompanies winter. The sounds of nature have been muted as the rivers run slower and the animals and insects that we hear throughout the year are gone. The trees give no rustle as the wind blows since the leaves have fallen months ago, instead standing in silence and collecting snow on their branches.

My efforts are limited to the turbo trainer and runs on days where the snow melts enough to clear trails. The open waterway ditches that run alongside the roads to flood the rice fields are deathtraps when the snow is piled up. A heavy step over one will send that leg straight through the snow and often scratch or bruise a leg and/or arms on the fall down. 

Just keep thinking that in a few more months, the world around will look much different than now and the days of waking up and seeing my breath in my apartment will be over.