When I said that the “big snow” wouldn’t last I wasn’t kidding. This time yesterday I was watching as huge puffy flakes fell. All that’s left are patches of icy white crystals, puddles and soggy ground topped by a gray cloud covered sky.
But…. I’m satisfied. Now I can say that I’ve experienced all five seasons in Japan. No, not a typo-we have five distinct seasons in Kyushu-spring, summer, autumn, winter and the rainy season-tsuyu– right before the summer sets in.
Most people just talk about the four seasons though.
I hear it often from many people “we have four seasons here in Japan” as if it were the only place on earth with four seasons.
I can say with all honesty that I’ve never experienced the seasons as distinctly as I have here. I’ve blogged about this before-how each season in Japan seems so completely separate from the others. It is so much more than just the air temperature or the seasonal décor and clothing changes. Our home physically changes according to the seasons. Shoji doors come off or are returned to their positions. Whole rooms are either closed off or opened up. Laundry poles go back to their stands outside. Our lifestyle completely changes every few months to sync with the earth’s rotation and the changing of the natural cycle.
Now I’ve experienced the winter in its totality. The “big snow” however brief- brought the winter season to me in its fullest. Kawara roof-tops went from slate gray to white. Icy breath in unheated rooms, the smell of kerosene and nabe (a popular winter’s meal). Extra vegetables stored in the spare tatami room which becomes almost a room-sized refrigerator because it’s so cold in there! The big warm cozy kotatsu blanket is hauled out of the futon closet and mikan (tangerines) are always present in a bowl on the kotatsu table. The bedroom is permeated with the scent of Japanese laundry soap. We wash at night and hang the fresh washing on poles in the bedroom to dry with the heater on overnight.
These have been “winter” to me these past five years. I can now add to that the memory of snow. It was snow that truly made it feel like winter and made the gray gloomy skies bearable.
Now, it is onward to spring. January is over this week. In February the momo (peach) blossoms will be the first to bring color back to my garden and the first to herald the spring, soon to be followed by the ume and sakura blossoms. As a matter of fact I peeked and I saw that there are already buds on the momo trees in the back garden.
This is the time of year when I begin to watch gardening videos on YouTube and plan my spring garden.
For some inspiration …for all the other gardeners out there….I’ve posted a video from my favorite gardening show-BBC’s Gardener’s World. Carol Klein had a wonderful episode called Life in a Cottage Garden that took you through all four seasons of her cottage garden in Devon but, sadly, it appears to have been removed from YouTube.
At any rate-I hope this video inspires you and gets you excited for the planting season to come! There may be gloomy gray hanging over my rooftop now but I can sense spring beginning to awaken the earth.