Sunday 11 December 2011


Out and about this weekend. Saturday went to our copy shop in Sendai. Leaving Koriyama on Saturday morning the air was swirling with snow and momentarily I wondered if going by car was a wise choice. But changed the car's tyres last week to brand new studless snow tyres and you can't live here and be afraid of a bit of snow. Low dark clouds were swirling in from the west, but there were gleams of sunshine to the east. And as it turned out the journey up the Tohoku Expressway along the Pacific side was clear and free of snow, bright sunshine, hills a rich gold with the last of the leaves, and persimmons a picture on the bare trees. There are a lot of persimmons left hanging on the trees this year. Wonder why? Ah well, at least they look pretty. And in the distance the high mountains capped with snow: the Azuma mountains on the left as you go past the city of  Fukushima and the peaks behind on the pass to Yonezawa. Further north I couldn't see the top of Mount Zao for cloud, but the ski slopes were etched white against the black of the mountain. With a top up of artificial snow the ski resorts are open - just waiting for visitors.

This time I didn't have to show my 'earthquake damage certificate' (risai shomeisho 罹災証明書) at the toll. The processing was causing long queues at the expressway exits and we desperately need visitors so since 1st December travel on the expressways in Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate is free.

Sunday headed west to visit my friend in Kitakata. Came out of the tunnels on the expressway to heavy snow. The contrast is stark. It really is like the famous first line of Kawabata Yasunari's novel Snow Country: 'The train came out of the long tunnel - and there was the snow country. The night had turned white.' (Seidensticker)

Last night's snowfall was the first to settle this season. About 10 cms. Snowploughs on the expressway churning slush up into the air. A bit scary. But clear on the way back.

What a country of extremes. Not only is it sweltering hot in summer and freezing cold in winter but in the same area the weather on the east, on the Pacific side, is mild with hardly any snow, whereas the Aizu area  is in the snow country with several metres of snow. Good luck to those evacuees from the coast who're having to put on snow tyres for the first time!
Good night

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