Second Draft


Snow

Posted in Research by Jill Snider Lum on Monday, February 22, 2010

We Torontonians are sitting in grim trepidation just now, awaiting what is supposed to be the first bad snowstorm of the season.  In a regular year our upcoming 10cm would be just another snowfall, but we haven’t had much snow this winter (and I’m not complaining).  It’s been more like a Tokyo or Kyoto winter than a Toronto one.

A Japanese friend of ours tells us that when they get a zero-degree day in Tokyo they feel very hard-done-by, and go about muttering how cold it is.  To us Canadians this sounds pretty strange… but keep in mind that Tokyo is so hot for most of the year that they don’t bother with things like cental heating.  If you live there you don’t heat your whole house in winter; you have a gas- or electric-powered heater that you move from room to room as you need it.  That means  you can store your beer in the bathroom to keep it nice and cold, and if you’re taking a hot bath in there you can move it to the bedroom temporarily to keep it chilled.  It’s no wonder residents of Tokyo and Kyoto complain when the thermometer hits the freezing mark!

In the Sengoku period, you’d have had braziers and a stove to heat your rooms, and you’d put hot coals in them and huddle around them.  There were little hand-warmers, too, that you could put a coal in and hold on to.  Padded kimono would help keep you warm, as would lots of blankets on your futon at night.  And the cultural tradition of drinking hot green tea all day would be a blessing!

As for snow, you wouldn’t see very much, as a general rule.  Just ice in the streets from time to time, and the occasional, quiet dusting of white flakes on the ground, which might last for a day.

Our Japanese friend experienced a 10cm snowfall in Tokyo a few years ago, and got himself a backache shoveling out the intersection by his house.  I told him that if he had to do it three more times that winter, we’d make him an honourary Canadian.  He was not at all enthusiastic.

The first flakes are falling outside my window.  Yuck.

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