It promised to be a historic day: the sunrise over tokyo was muffled by grey clouds and an eerie chill permeated the air. Samuel, my Mexican tomodachi(friend) and I looked out from the balcony of Yadoya Orange across the ominous Nakano skyline as soon as the sky erupted with snowfakes falling to cover everything in a sheet of white ash.
The view from our balcony
As the day progressed we sat transfixed on the falling frozen rain. so soft, so yawarakai. Finally we worked up the courage to leave the warm confines of our dorm to the snow covered streets of Nakano. Prepared and well layered, or so we thought!
Boots on, lightly gloved we went forth towards the wintery fairyland vision in front of us. The fresh clean air, the cold soft snow falling on us. So clear! The silence of these Japanese streets making the crunching of snow underfoot that much more loud. Immediately we begun giggling like children! This is so new to us, so surreal that our only reaction to the absurdity of this snow was laughing.
A small park on Waseda dori
Sam is from the part of Mexico where they make the famous Tobasco sauce and myself from the home of modern coffee in Australia, a city called Melbourne, we had never seen snow before, not to mention touched it! Fluffy and frighteningly cold at once. I being, the old man that I am, tried to escape back inside, but Sam wouldn’t allow it. So we trudged along the snowy streets to the Kitano Jinja(Shrine), a backstreet shrine that is the haunt of intrepid Gaijin and locals alike.
Arriving, we witnessed an image made real from an anime! icicle covered streets, a snow drenched Shinto shrine with red torii gates and the ground not green with grass but sparkling white with thick snow.
Kitano jinja during the snowstorm
We took some photos and reveled in being first time tourists – both to Japan and to the snow. Its cold and fluffy at the same time, having a certain quality neither of us have ever seen before. Half of Mexico and most of Australia are deserts but we never have snow in the cities there.
This substance called snow, made of frozen particles of super cooled water, has such a beautiful substructure – a labyrinthine quality as if made by the hand of a very artistic kami spirit. Although cold, it made the concrete inner city ordinariness into a magical environment transfixing both old and young alike with its radiant purity and soft quality. We walked down the dori, the street, on our way to the main street of Waseda dori and observed the snow in its finery draped along the streets like a blanket, just as it hung from the electrical wires overhead like fine spider-silk.
Shop lights and electric wires decked in snow
The wind began to blow ferosiously up Waseda dori, a chilling Arctic gale. As we continued along the street, my fingerless gloves are thin and begin to cause my fingers to freeze. My little finger starting to loose feeling, with mild fear I turned to Sam and cried.
“Sam, my fingers are frozen!”
He looked at me and rolled his eyes.
“You’re fine” he replied
I began to rapidly walk down the street looking for a warm place to thaw my newly half frozen hands. With a childish fear I searched for any shop that I recognized along the dori and like a well illuminated sanctuary – DAISO(100yen shop) appeared. Its sliding doors ushering us in with warm air and the bright fluorescent lights.
Trees just off Waseda dori
We hurred to the upper levels of DAISO. This really is heaven I thought to myself, still feeling frozen and dazed by the onslaught of a few moments earlier. Sam hovered around the winter wear section and decides to buy a scarf. Now with thawed hands and beginning to think with my stomach, I searched the lower level of the food section, finding the delights of 100 ¥ melon pan at the bottom of the mirrored staircase!
Walking back to Yadoya Orange
We arrived back to Nakano Broadway and onto its catwalk shopping mile. Munching happily on my melon pan and Sam admiring his new scarf. Back at Yadoya Orange we regailed the newcomers with our tale of snow and sleet to their interest, continuing to warm ourselves under the kotatsu. A true Nakano experience!