It’s that time of the year again when most of Japan finds itself blanketed under a layer of pristine white snow and my Facebook feed is filled with posts and photos from giddy ALTs who have never seen snow before.
Coming from South Africa I myself was far from ready for my first winter in Japan and I had no idea just how cold it gets here from December onward. One of the first things you come to love is your kotatsu, or heated table, that lets you blissfully sink into a warm and comfortable cocoon and helps you forget all about the mountains of snow outside your front door.
So what is my point in writing all this? Well, for those of us raised in warmer climes such as South Africa, Australia, etc. winter is the time of year when we smile as people in the northern parts of the world have to layer up in coats and jackets and brave the howling, cold winds and snows outside their houses as they head to and from work. Now though, I’ve become part of that daily trek through the snowy wilds as I head into my schools and I can understand that snow is astoundingly beautiful and yet at the same time, terribly dangerous. So far this week a morning hasn’t gone by where I haven’t seen footage on the morning news of cars, trucks and commuters all getting stuck in traffic accidents or delays as trains and buses can no longer make their way due to heavy snows. The impressive thing here in Japan though is that unlike many other countries I’ve never seen a company or school close for a snow day. No matter what, people do their best to get into work every day and it’s the least I can do even though all I really feel like doing is burrowing deeper into my blankets and never emerging from its comforting warmth.
Even though the snow I see every day is freezing cold and the roads outside our house are icy deathtraps, I still have a strong urge to let loose my inner child and run outside to build the biggest snowman I can make or just listen to the crunch of snow under my feet as I walk.
I think that’s the beauty of experiencing things for the first time in our life. We become very much like our younger selves as children and lose all sense of embarrassment and rather just revel in our amazement at things we’ve never experienced before. Maybe something we should all take time to do is to just not worry about social norms and let the little kid inside us take us on a journey of discovery.