I know everybody's doing a snow post, but I would be remiss in my duty as African snow novice if I didn't jump into the drift.
I'm such a snow idiot that I used to think snow was soft and warm and fluffy. Yes, go ahead, laugh, but let me see how you cope in the Kalahari Desert. I still think snow is magic, but I've developed a healthy respect for it. It can, and frequently does, kill. It's hard and icy and wet and a pain in the butt when you slip on it.
|Snow on a rose in Yanaka Cemetery|
Yesterday Tokyo had an unusually heavy snowfall of 6 to 8 cm, depending on the area. It caused havoc: traffic was paralyzed, flights were cancelled and hundreds of snow-related injuries were reported in Kanto and Kōshin. This morning a thick layer still covered roads in the city.
May I digress? Tokyoites' choice of snow footwear amuses me vastly.
High heels? Eish, sisi, jy soek mos moeilikheid. You're looking for trouble.
Ugg boots? Dear heavens, Australia, what horror have you unleashed upon an innocent world? Listen, Tokyo, Uggs are supposed to be indoors shoes. They're not waterproof, and they don't provide proper traction on snow.
Rain boots? OK, but I hope you're wearing four pairs of Uniqlo Heattech socks under that thin rubber.
Sneakers? If they're made of fabric, they'll get soaked within ten minutes and your toes will get frostbite. Though I saw a resourceful woman who had on socks, then plastic bags, then sneakers. The plastic bags were flapping merrily around her ankles as she walked, but I can assure you that her feet were dry.
Today's Darwin Award goes to the young lady who was wearing heelless stilettos (Google it) at Ueno Station. Holy Mother of God, woman, what were you thinking? Or am I overoptimistic in my verb selection?
Hiking boots. That's what you wear. My feet were dry, warm and snug; and I could march along happily without worrying about falling.
Talking of which: why do Tokyoites head for the strip on the pavement on which everybody else has walked, in other words, where the snow has been compacted into hard, slippery ice? Isn't it better to walk in the softer, looser snow? I may be used to deserts, but I figured that one out very quickly.
Anyway. Where wôs I?
Anyway. Where wôs I?
This morning was beautiful, sunny and not too cold, so I went walking in ... a cemetery. Where else? Yanaka Reien. It's one of the best mornings I've had in Tokyo: glorious solitude, crunching virgin snow, silent stones. I was alone with the spirits, snow whooshing off trees and stray cats that had me laughing aloud at their attempts to walk on snow without walking on snow.
|Snow in Yanaka Cemetery|
One more snow-related fact, since it's such perfect timing. Have you noticed those rope contraptions around trees? They're called yukitsuri (雪吊; yuki = snow, tsuru = to hang or suspend), and they protect the trees against heavy snow. Trees in Tokyo don't really need this protection, but the old custom is continued as decoration. The ropes are usually attached to trees that have been pruned into a very specific shape.
|Yukitsuri at Tennō-ji (天王寺) in Yanaka|
Kenroku-en in Kanazawa is famous for its yukitsuri. I found this explanation on their website:
Since winter comes early to Kanazawa, the yukitsuri is put up mid-November. It starts with the famous Karasaki pine. (Note by Ru: The tree requires five main pillars and eight hundred ropes. It takes a full day to complete the protection.) The trees that are suppported are pines, azaleas and fruit trees. First a pole is propped up near the trunk of a tree and rope is hung from it and attached to the ground, forming a teepee-like shape. This process is especially important for evergreen trees because they are so delicate.
There are three types of yukitsuri.
Ringo-tsuri: five ropes attached to one pole are placed close to the trunk of a tree, and a special decorative rope is attached to the top of the pole.
Miki-tsuri: used to support young trees such as pine and cherry. The rope is attached directly to the top of a tree and hang directly into the lower branches of the tree giving it proper support.
Shibori: used on shrubs such as bush clovers nd azaleas. Rope is used to gather all the branches into a bottle-like shape. This method is used to protect the plants from snow piling up on the ground around them.
The most popular method is ringo-tsuri, and all the famous and older trees in Kenroku-en are supported in this manner.
|This was taken in autumn at Koishikawa Kōrakuen.|
I lied. That wasn't the last snow-related trivia. Here's another one. Just one day ago I posted photos of smaller plants protected by straw covers on my photo blog; but today I can show you that these straw covers do have a purpose beyond decoration. See? Too cute. The snow photos were taken this morning at Tennō-ji in Yanaka.
|Flowers in snow|
|The dog lover's grave, above and below|
|What's that on my head? Get it off! Get it off!|
Put on some clothes, you two! It's freezing!