Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jack Frost Has Come to Play

It is becoming quite cold very quickly this winter. While it does get fairly chilly where I live usually, it is rare that so early on in June can you see your breath or discover your car covered in frosty ice in the morning.

Early this morning, however, I discovered that my car, Roger, was covered in a thin layer of white crystals. I quickly went outside to take some photos of the first frost of the year before hurrying back, immensely grateful that my parent's paid for good heating in our house.
I am reminded of the first time I experienced snow in Japan at the beginning of 2005. I was amazed the first morning I woke up there to open the shutters on my windows and look down to find the prettiest frost on the the roof below.

I still remember having the best fun playing in the snow with my little tour group of Australian teenagers as our Japanese guides looked on as though we were crazy. We would sink up to our waists in pure white snow, and throw it at each other's faces. We were taken to see a frozen waterfall in the mountainous regions near Nikko.
My host parents had the most amazing bath which was filled with beautiful hot water and then dyed a different colour each night! My host parents would encourage me to stay in for at least an hour after dinner, as is the Japanese custom, and I didn't take long to make the adjustement. I have often longed to return to visit that bath on long cold nights here in Toowoomba, and wonder what colour my old host mother was dyeing the water each day. It really was lovely at the end of each long day travelling. What are you winter memories?



  1. Most of my memories involved falling on ice or losing sensation in my fingers and toes...but I am very fond of roaring fires.
    Frost is indeed so pretty.
    Where were you in Japan exactly? I spent a semester in Sapporo.

  2. I've been twice, but for much shorter trips than you. The first was a rotary exchange; we stayed with host families for two weeks in Mitsukaido, about an hour from Tokyo. My host parents took me to Tokyo for a weekend to stay with their daughter and then the rotary group took us to Nikko, where the photos are from, a little town up in the mountains to the west (I think!) of Tokyo.

    The second trip I went on was a school trip for three weeks. We trekked around quite a bit through Tokyo, Takatsuki (our sister city), Osaka, Hiroshima and Fujisawa and smaller places in between.

    I would love to stay for an extended period of time in Japan like you did, and I would especially love go to to Sapporo, I hear it's really lovely.

  3. Sapporo is lovely and I really enjoyed living there, but I think Osaka might be my favorite Japanese city. I spent about a week there with friends and a lot of time traveling around to other cities as well (Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nara, etc). My one complaint was how isolated Sapporo is from the other cities--it is a great place to live, but when you're in a country for a limited time you want to see everything!
    It sounds like you had some really cool adventures. What was your favorite city?

  4. Favourite city is a very difficult choice...I really enjoyed Tokyo, especially areas like Akihabara and Harajuku, but then I also really liked Hiroshima and Osaka. Except for Tokyo, I've really only spent a day or two in each city, so I suppose there are things that I like about each area.

    What I did notice in every city was the very distinct and unique youth cultures that you could see just on the streets. In Australia, particularly where I live in a smaller city, you don't seem to get youth movements which are so publicly evident in clothing styles, activities and attitudes, which I think is a shame. I have been glad to find some of the Japanese street fashion sites to keep watching the trends evolving, they're just so different to what's happening here in Oz.

    What were you studying in Japan? Did you learn in Japanese or English?

  5. I studied Japanese actually--so I walked away with conversational level compentency. It was intense, but so great.
    I completely agree with you about the distinctiveness of each city. It makes it so interesting to travel around. And really blows that statement "all cities are alike" out of the water.
    Japanese street fashion has me hooked as well. It's definitely more diverse than any other nation I can think of. The people who want to stand out in Japan really go the extra mile.
    Do you think you'll go back to Japan?

  6. I really do hope to go back to Japan; there's so much that I've yet to see. Because I've been in summer and winter, I'd really like to go during Autumn to see the beautiful leaves turning and Spring for the cherry blossoms. I'm tutoring a student in basic Japanese at the moment, who is going on a school trip in November and I am sooo jealous! It's only an 8 hour flight from here to Japan and fairly cheap, so I hope to go back in the next few years. I'm also hoping to visit Europe and America too, so I'd better get started on savings!

    I studied Japanese for 8 years at primary and high school, but I'm nowhere near as fluent at speaking as I would like to be. I think to really learn it you would have to live there and immerse yourself in it. Have you retained a lot of what you learnt?

  7. A short, affordable flight? So jealous!
    I was there for spring and the cherry blossoms--as magical as they say, in my opinion.
    I did retain it quite well for the longest time (I thought in Japanese and it kept slipping out for months). I think it was in part from living there and speaking to my host family every day. Now it's been almost two years and there's less I remember...but I think I could get it back fairly quickly if I started taking classes again. :)

  8. I would love to live in any other country for an extended time really and learn about a different language and culture. It sounds like you had the most wonderful experience.

    Sigh..and now I want to travel!