Tokyo Blizzard of February 8, 2014

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Edge of Tokyo in February 08 2014 Blizzard


I have been looking at my phone all week.  There had been a snow mark for saturday since about Monday.  I usually don’t think much about it.  Being from Miami, I do find snow quite intriguing.  So, there we go.  We are suppose to get snow.

As the day moved closer reports started to come in that this is going to be the heaviest snow to hit Tokyo in more than 20 years.  I thought that the snow that hit last year pretty bad, but what was coming out in the news was saying that this was going to be a once in a generation storm.

My kitty woke my at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning cause he was hungry.  I gave hime a bit of food and took a look out the window.  My mid Shabbat the show was beginning to fall.  It was crazy cold out and i jumped back in bed.

By morning the snow was pilling up.  I was worried about my patio greenhouses, and I kept on sweeping the accumulating snow off.

Finally I suited up to go on my arctic expedition around the neighborhood.  It was a ghost town.  Almost no one was out.  A few kids were playing in the snow or trying to sled down some small hills.  It was pretty much just me, my camera, and a warm cap.

Snow has a way of beautifying the city.  Everything becomes the same tonality.  Objects take on new shapes as the bleed into one another.  I was out for more than an hour.  The wind would pick up at times, and the snow being so dry this year blew like a leaf blower across my cheeks.

We, the wife and I, were suppose to go out to celebrate her earth day, that wasn’t going to happen.  I made her a cup of amazake  which is a  a thick drink made with the left over mash from nihonshu (sake) and is usually sweetened and sometimes sake is added to it.

Suddenly she is lets go to Seiyu.  We suit up to make the several block trek to the supermarket.  Her  clear vinyl umbrella blew inside out. We walked down the middle of the street.  Some cars had been abandoned on the side of the road.  The only cars we sway were delivery trucks.  Nothing seems to stop the special  deliveries.    Even saw one guy help push another one’s truck out of the snow.

We made it to the store and back.  Caught some olympics and went to sleep.  The snow was still falling even after midnight.

By morning the snow had begun to melt.  I had trekked to the home center to buy a shovel yesterday which came in handy today.  I cleared a small path on the sidewalk adjacent to my home and cleared off the step.

After breakfast my wife asked me to clear off the driveway.  I did.  I soon noticed all of my neighbors were out to with shovels in hand.  Not just the men, but the women too.  They weren’t clearing their driveways, they were clearing the street.  I was shocked.

I couldn’t give in so I too joined in the effort to clear the street.  After about 2 hours I was beat like i went 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.  But, I wasn’t done yet.  I retuned with a small spade and joined my wife as we cleared the last bit of road that connected up with the one the busses went down.

Before going back inside.  I just stared at the road cleared of snow and marveled.  We did this!  Not a snow plow but a bunch of housewives cleared out streets and sidewalks so we, as the community, could be safe.  That was beautiful.

All and all a very memorable day.  So much snow.  The teamwork to clean the now.  The astonishing amount of snow that came down from the sky.  I don’t know how my people in the colder climates can cope.

Now rest, for tomorrow shall bring muscle aches.
Nagisa New Town Canyons with Yellow Umbrellas



Frosted Pruned Trees, Kasai, February 08 2014 Blizzard



Snow Slide, Kasai, February 08 2014 Blizzard



Riverside Kasai, February 08 2014 Blizzard


Yakushi Onsen (Hot Springs) Gunma Prefecture

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Farmer's Home, Yakushi Onsen (Hot Spring)It

It was been a bit since I have written a post.  Honestly partly laziness with a dash of using my iPhone too much.  That being said I just returned from a whirlwind trip up north to Yakushi Onsen (Hot Springs) in Gunma Prefecture.

We hoped aboard an express JR train from Ueno station heading north.  It wasn’t soon after leaving the Tokyo Terminal that it began to rain.  Speeding away from the industrial center and the endless stretches of concrete the rain quickly turned to sleet and before I knew it it was snowing.

Being a true Miamian, I am always amazed at snow.  This freezing cold white substance that falls from the skies.  No matter how many scientific explanations I read about the formation of snow, it still seems like magic to me.  So, there I was, dashing on this speeding train watching the snow come down, and down.

We excited at Nakanojo station and met by our hotel’s staff that shuttled us 45 minutes up into the Gunma mountains.  As we gained elevation, more and more of the magical white stuff stretched out across the valleys.  By the time we reached the hotel the wet snow had before dry and was whipping about our faces.

The hotel was an old samurai’s home that had been converted to a hotel with most of the outer buildings housing small collections of antiques.  My wife grabbed a blue umbrella to keep off the snow, as I opted to let the show accumulate on my hood.

Japan is famous for there hospitality and Hatago hotel was no exception.  They helped us and served a warm glass of shitake mushroom tea as we answered a barrage of questions about all of our dinning and hotel options.

I walked around for a bit and found a small temple not far away.  By now the snow has ceased falling but the wind was whipping the dry snow across the blanketed farms.  It was beautiful to be making the first tracks across the snow.

It was time to head back and soak away some of those aches and pains.  I get to the bath, and suddenly I couldn’t read the characters for men and women’s bath.  They weren’t the usual ones.  One noren was blue, the other was red.  I kind of assumed that red is close to pink so probably for the women, but I didn’t want to risk being responsible for having an elderly Japanese woman freak out at having a tall bearded foreigner pop his head in.  Proper hot spring etiquette is essential for not being a fear inducing traveler.

I found some staff and and confirmed that the blue side was for me.  I kept repeating the mantra “blue” to myself as I slowly drew back the door and peaked inside.  I was greeted by absolutely no one.  I had the place to myself.

I found a lucky 100 yen in the locker disrobed and put the key around my wrist.  Properly washed before entering the bath.  I poured a few wooden buckets of water over my shoulder as an attempt to adjust to the freezing air and the boiling bath.  I truly had forgotten just how scalding the water could be.  Probably somewhere in the range of around 45C (113F).  Feet in first, then legs, up to my torso and then finally my shoulders.  Not really sure how long this took, but by the time I left the bath I am postive that the water became a bit of a Jacob broth after I was fully able to submerge myself.

The night progressed nicely as the temps dipped into the teens (about -8C).  We sampled a never ending dinner of local goodies and some of sake.  I am not a big eater and I was overwhelmed by all the delicacies.

It was a crispy cold short adventure.  We city dwellers forget that there is so much beauty out there once we make the jump out of the cities.  Tokyo just happens to be so huge that it takes a while to get out.  I was thrilled to see some snow, and snap the shutter a few times.  I need to break out of Tokyo and hit the hills.

Mountain in Yakushi Onsen (Hot Spring)

Temple Flag and Orchard, Yakushi Onsen (Hot Spring)

Temple Stuffed Rabbit, Inari Shrine Fox and Snow Tracks, Yakushi Onsen (Hot Spring)

Its a Snowy Day in the Neighborhood, Minami Kasai Tokyo

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Minami Kasai Tokyo, Playground in Snow

The forecast originally called for only rain, but that quickly turned to sleet, and within 1o minutes of the sleet it was just snow.  This was around 11:30 am.  It still hasn’t stopped yet.

This Miami raised boy had to do something that he had never done before.  I shoveled snow with a short spade.  It is not an experience that I would like to repeat anytime soon.

I needed something from the grocery store, so I put on the snow boots that I get to wear once a season, my waterproof jacket and headed towards my local Seiyu supermarket.  The Snow I had shoveled 2 hours earlier had been replaced with more freshly fallen snow.  The streets were relatively quite except for the occasional rumbling of a car or bus with snow chains on.

Luckily for the children today was a holiday and many of them were out in the streets throwing snowballs, sledding, and making yuki daruma (snowman).

The wind had really begun to pick up and the snowflakes.  The wind was striking my in the eyes and some managed a sneak attack and hit me square in my eyeball.

Tokyo does not get a lot of snow, and the amount we are getting today is going to be enough to shut down trains and services.  I will keep all out there in the streets in my heart that you may travel home safely.

Bundle up Tokyo!  Its only going to get colder.

Today’s post is livicated to my father on his 70th birthday.  I love you dad!
Minami Kasai Tokyo, My Street in Snow

I’m Dreaming of a Pink Friday

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Do Not Cry, It is Must

This Friday was gorgeous.  It all and all  a perfect spring day.  The sun shone so high in the sky that I had to roll up my long sleeves as I took an afternoon stroll.  The dust and pollen filled my nostrils with every breath, but it didn’t matter.  The day soothed my tired body.

Tokyo is on the other side of the cherry blossom peak.  That is when the trees have reached  past their full bloom and now are beginning to shed their pink petals like a snow flurries.  The petals flutter down from the canopies above and dust the ground in their pinkness.  It is a really magical time of year.  A time that seems like it is snowing yet the weather is warm, and the flakes are neither moist or cold.

Wandering through a small neighborhood park I came across some mothers and their children enjoying the last days of the cherry blossoms.  To be so thankful that the winter is over and that we all know the blazing heat of summer is not that far behind.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Let us pause.  Take a moment to enjoy the sensation of the ever drifting pink petals.  Fluttering in the wind and landing around our feet.  We will have time enough to attempt to keep cool in the long humid days of summer.

Pink Rabbit under Cherry Blossom Trees

Icy, So Icy, Weekend

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Remainder, Melting Day

The weather has really dropped since Friday night.  Each night the lows are in the upper 20s (0 C) or so.  Way to cold for my born and raised in Miami blood.  I know I really shouldn’t complain because of how many people out there in the world are suffering from truly frigid temperatures.  But, then again, for me, its bloody cold out.

The wind howls at night and on Friday night the rain quickly turned to snow. I checked outside my window before I drifted off into dreamland that night and the snow had ceased falling.  I was disappointed.  I was looking forward to getting some pictures in my neighborhood of the freshly fallen snow.  I called it a night, recited the Shema, and went to sleep.

I awoke late in the morning trying to keep warm.  I opened up the curtain to be shocked to see snow atop my neighbors roof.  There wasn’t much left, but enough for me to bundle up and stroll around the neighborhood looking for some patches of snow.

It again was bloody cold out.  Most of the snow that had made it till the morning were those patches that were in the shade. I was on a quest to find crystals, ice crystals that is.

The ice in Tokyo is usually so fleeting.  It is here for a day or two at the most then it melts into our memories.  I do enjoy the snow, even though I do not want to see it that often.  Just enough for the snow to maintain its captivating mysterious nature over me.

Residual Snow with Bamboo Fencing

Branching out in the Winter

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Branching Out in Winter

The winter snow was quickly melted into a memory.  there are still a few patches of snow here and there, but for the most part on the Eastern side of Tokyo the snow has vanished.

I am not one who wants to live in a place with a blistering cold weather.  My Miami blood is too unaccustomed to that kind of weather.  But I do enjoy the beauty of the snow.  The white crystals that form on the leaves.  The powered that drops from the skies.  They are all so gorgeous to me.

Since the March 11th earthquake and tsunami I have been reconnected with the natural world around me.  I am syncing with nature, and noticing the habits and life of the plant life around me.  It wasn’t that I never noticed before, it is more of that I never payed close attention.

All the changes from one season to the next.  How flowers bud, blossom, and shrivel in due time.  It is all a matter of time between the birth, death and rebirth of the natural world.

I plan to keep in sync with the world around me.  At least the best as I can.


Sometimes things are Clearer in the Sunshine

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Tracking to Koshahaim

The snow began to fall last night around 9pm.  It continued to about 1 in the morning.  It was the first snow to fall and stick around in the Tokyo area.  I missed the snow last year when I was in Miami, so I was excited to see some fall.

Watching the clumps of snow fall seems like magic to me.  They tumble out of the darkened skies and drift until they find a cozy spot to settle.  It calms, and excited me.

I woke up in the middle of the night and peeked out the window to see if the snow was still there.  There was some, but I was beginning to melt.  That was a bit disappointing, but I went for a stroll around the neighborhood just to see what there is to be seen.

The streets might not have had much snow, but lots of the snow melted and iced over during the night.  I could see more clearly that the night before, but it still seems like another world.

Get our and appreciate the changed that happen in your part of the world.  You never know what changes you may find.

Sunshined Ice

Peeking into Today

Snow has Come to Tokyo

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Lucid Communicating with Snow Two

Snow has finally come to Tokyo.  The rest of Japan has been hit with record amounts of snow this year.  So metropolitan Tokyo ha caught up to the rest of the country.

I took a a short walk at about 10pm just to see what old Minami Kasai was looking like with a fresh dusting of snow.  Being from Miami, it always seems like magic to see white powder falling from the sky.  And again being from Miami, it is NOT that powder, but the one you can make snowballs out of.

The crazy thing is about this snow is that there has been thunder and lighting.  I have never seen that before.  But maybe my people in the midwest can help me out here.

I am looking forward to taking a stroll in the early morning to see what there is to be seen.  And to get the once or twice a year I get to put on my snow boots.

Goodnight from the white night.

Lucid Communicating with Snow Two

Temporary Phasing

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Some things will last forever.  Somethings change too quickly to be seen.  Some things move between one phase and an other. It is just temporary.

Water is fluid and full of motion at room temperature.  In the heat of the earth the water becomes steam.  In the dead of winter the fluidity of water becomes motionless.

Wet snowflakes fall from the sky moving from one to another.  Hitting the wet cement it quickly transforms its alternative self.

It sometimes it is all just moment between one phase and the next.

Temporary Phasing

Sopping Wet Snow Spotted in Chiba, Japan

Friday, January 20th, 2012

It’s cold.  Really cold.  It is the kind of wet cold that just goes through your skin and heads straight to your bones.  This is when my growing up in Miami has its drawbacks.  It is right on the threshold of what I can bear.

The rain came all night, and continued into the morning.  People living on the west side of Tokyo had snow in the morning, but us on the east side next to the bay it was just gray dreary rain.

At around 12:30 pm the rain started become a bit slushy.  Not ten minutes later did that slush become snow.  I stood in front of a large glass window watching the clumps of snow fall to the ground and then vanish once they hit the puddles.  Watching the snow come down always relaxes, and excites my soul.

Snow was always something special to me.  My family only got to experience snow when war were on a vacation.  So, as soon as I see snow I think, VACATION!  I don’t want to see to much snow.  But a few times a winter is enough for me.

On this shabbat a special shabbat shalom shout out to Christine for sending some goodies from the states.  May all my other friends and family have a beautiful day of rest too!

Step Up Snow Kenji

It was 2 Degrees in Downtown Ginza

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Getting ready to make that trip back to the states, I went into Ginza to do some souvenir shopping.  It wasn’t the best day to go to a department store it being, both a holiday and the Friday before Valentines day, so it was a bit packed.

We had lunch at an Okinawan restaurant, as we watched the snow fall to the city streets below.  Kind of a weird feeling eating warm  Okinawan, food inside while we watched snow fall from the 12th floor of the Mitsukoshi Department store.




2° Degrees C in Ginza, with a Helping of Snow

Random Slices on a Saturday

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

After getting some absolutely rare spring snow in Tokyo, I took my cycle over the bridge to Urayasu.  The skies had cleared.  There were a few patches of snow on the ground.  Still the mercury was a bit low and my jacket was zipped all the way up.  Just some slices.  Random, or not.  Just some clicks to enjoy the lovely sabbath.

Urayasu Skies

April Snow and Ice

FIshing Goods, with Urayasu Tozai Line Bridge

I've Got Your Number

The Sun is Not Shining, so I Will Make my Own

Friday, April 16th, 2010

The sun has dipped eternally behind the horizon. It has dipped so far down that I spotted falling snowflakes in Chiba, Japan today.  Since the weather is cold, almost to the point of freeing I have decided that I must create my own sunshine.  My wind wanders to my home sitting there at the rock bottom of the map, basking in all the beauty that is Miami.  Open up that sun and send those warming rays of light over to Tokyo.  We all need that sunshine.

Flags Across the Sky

Red Wall North Miami


Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Some ice-tails from the snowfall from the other day.  I focused on the details, the macro, the surreal the icy and the plain cold.  I will hence forth label these and ice-tails.

Ice Layer, with Tag and Buffings

Cold Drink Anyone?

Standing Ovation

Iced Buttons


He's Cold, In More Ways than One

7 a.m Stroll in Minami Kasai, Snowscapes

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

The snow came down last night.  I know it is nothing like what my people in the midwest or east coast of America have experienced but for Tokyo this is a lot of snowfall.  You all have to keep in mind I am a Miami boy at heart.  Snow has and alway be like magic to me, so that is why I set my alarm to get me up and out of bed early to take the stroll.  I was worried if I slept in, all the snow would have melted into the gutters before I could get off some nice clicks.

Grab my camera, pulled on my snow boots that I get to use once a year, and trooped around my neighborhood for about an hour.  It wasn’t that cold, and the sun was shining and the ice was melting fast.  Down by the riverside I noticed I was not the only photographer up and about this February morning.

I love the sound of the icy snow crunching under my rubber boots.  Its such a pleasing sound to hear, and no I did not fall on my ass.

More to Come

If the Levee Breaks

Snow Kings of Minami Kasai

Snow Slide

Cobble Snow

Ice Puddles Walker

Picture of a Man Taking a Picture of a boy Sledding

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