14 January 2017
All last week, I had been hearing about the snow we were to get in Nagoya over the weekend. Before moving to Japan, I knew that it snowed in here, but I didn’t think it snowed in Nagoya, and I was more than a little excited. But I figured it would be like the brief snow I saw in Izmir, tiny flakes that came down on a couple of occasions but didn’t stick or pile up.
I’m so happy I was wrong.
When I went downstairs Saturday morning, there were magical flurries of snow flying through the air.
“It’s snowing!!! It’s really snowing!!!” I cried, dashing to the window to gape in child-like awe at the world outside.
“Jeez, Mo, when was the last time you saw snow?” exclaimed one of my room mates.
“I’m from LA, so pretty much never!”
The whole morning, from my walk to the station to my train to Toyota City to my walk to work, I was in awe, amazed at the winter wonderland forming around me. My coworkers laughed at me as I filmed the falling snow from the window at lunchtime. I teach English to children, and weather is a common warm-up topic in our classrooms.
“How’s the weather today?” I asked my students.
“It’s. . uh, snow. . . snowy” they mumbled.
“That’s right! It’s snowy!! It’s snowy today!!!” I enthusiastically replied.
I’m pretty sure my students think I’m crazy.
After work, it was still snowing. I was pretty tired from teaching 8 lessons, but a walk in the crisp air, swirling with icy snowflakes, perked me right up. I met friends for dinner in Sakae, the downtown area of Nagoya. Restaurants in Japan are commonly high up from street level, and a window table on the 8th floor gave us a magnificent view of the trees and streets thickly dusted with the still-falling snow. We had oysters, a wintertime delicacy in Japan. We ordered a sampler that included oysters from Hokkaido in the north, from Hyogo near Osaka, and from Nagasaki in the south. Each tasted different, with fresh and delicate flavors. It was a perfect winter meal.
I caught one of the last trains home for the night, or the “drunk train” as I like to call it. In San Francisco, the drunk train, or worse still, the drunk bus after the last train, was always a hairy experience, a surefire way to find the sketchiest, foulest inhabitants of San Francisco. But in Japan, the drunk train is very pleasant. It’s fairly crowded, and was more so on a snowy night when not many taxis were out, but the atmosphere is convivial. People are friendly, social. The cold, aloof exterior that Japanese people have on the morning train is abandoned. Everyone has let their guard down, and is enjoying their night with their friends or partners. The snow had filled me with such joy, and it seemed like the world was joyful with me.
Walking home from the station, my familiar world had been altered, and replaced by a mysterious soft white world, lit brightly at midnight from the orb of the full moon. I walked carefully, partly so as not to slip but also so as not to disturb the fragile, quiet purity of the world around me. I hesitantly removed my glove, and delicately picked up a handful of snow. I squished it between my fingers, and felt it’s coldness, it’s tiny crystals, it’s magic. I shook it off, re-gloved my frozen fingertips, and continued on home.