May 24, 2017
Be careful in the snowy season
The snow in heavy snowfall areas is potentially dangerous. From the perspective of a Thai person; it was even more of a challenge but well worth the chill.
Life with Snow
The city of Hida Takayama is surrounded by a vast and beautiful mountain range. If you’re looking at it from afar, the snow-covered peaks seem out of reach. I could only imagine how much time it would take me to climb to the top!
I don’t think that it would even be possible with my climbing experience. Visually, the mountains resembled a chocolate candy dessert, sprinkled generously with powdered sugar. Truly a sight to see for any big-city dweller. Of course, there was lots of snow within the city to keep snow-lovers happy as well!
On the main road into town, the snow had been removed professionally by a huge snowplow. As a result; little snow peaks had been created on either side of the road, forming a miniature mountain range on the sidewalk just for us. On the whole trek from downtown to the ‘Itakura no Yado in Hakuguri’ where I was staying, I didn’t see the sidewalk once!
Since Itakura no Yado is a little out of the way and it’s not on a road that is frequently traveled upon, it’s not plowed as often as the main roads in the winter season. It was a bit of a difficult journey for me to walk there on my own.
Though I must point out, I don’t have much experience with snow, to begin with, being from Thailand! My sister and I have no memories of snowfall from our childhood. It’s a very rare occurrence. That’s what made this snow experience so special for me. I felt like a child seeing snow for the first time.
For this reason, also, we went to great lengths just to walk in the fresh snow where no one had stepped before us. It was wild! We were taking pictures of each other and playing around in the snow like school kids.
When suddenly my sister half-disappeared, buried waist deep in the snow! She had misjudged the ‘trail,’ and gone off the sidewalk without realizing it! I grabbed her hand to pull her back up to safety, and we erupted into to a fit of giggles. I should point out that the owner of the hotel had talked to us previously about the dangers of the snow.
Takayama city is in a region that gets a ton of snowfall, and as a result, a lot of snow becomes piled onto people’s rooftops. This amount of snow weighs a great deal and can cause a roof to collapse, burying the residents in the home.
We were told that to prevent the house from collapsing due to the weight of the snow; it must always be removed by hand. It’s a job that involves climbing the very steep roofs and shoveling the heavy snow.
The roof can get slippery with ice, and it can be quite dangerous. It was definitely a lesson to remember! Even though snow is beautiful, in the wrong circumstances, it can cause accidents.
We had the chance to visit a park that supposedly had playground equipment, but we couldn’t see any of the equipment due to the snow! Everything was completely buried, and all that was visible was a snowy field.
The local children didn’t seem to mind much though. Instead, they made their own fun! They formed snowballs with their hands (while wearing warm mittens and gloves) and built little walls to defend themselves in snowball fights. Other kids rolled huge balls of snow into snowmen and decorated them.
My sister and I looked at the icicles descending from the roofs of the houses and thought it would be fun to knock them down with our own snowballs. It could’ve been a great pastime, but we noticed that the icicles were razor-sharp. We didn’t want to set a bad example for the kids, so we thought it best to leave them alone since we had been taught about snow safety earlier that day.
I saw a lot of icicles on this trip, and not just in the mountains. There were huge icicles even in the city. So much so that they were dripping off of the red berries (called ‘Southern Sky’) that hung from the trees at the roadside, coating them in a clear candy-like glaze. It was gorgeous.
Despite falling into the deep snow, we enjoyed this part of the trip greatly. Putting your footprints in fresh snow is such an exciting experience. Like you are the only person in the world to step in that space.
As it happened, I realized it was Valentine’s Day. My first Valentine’s Day in the snow! It was such a romantic experience, spending it in a winter wonderland. I wrote “LOVE” in Thai, in the untouched snow and I took a picture of it with my phone before sending it to my mom and a friend back home in Thailand.
On the outskirts of the city, I even got to see a telephone box that was so deeply covered in snow, only the very tip of the telephone booth was visible. Thank goodness for cell phones, I thought. No one would be making a call from that booth until Spring arrived! It was like a small mountain centered around a mysterious phone, like something out of a fantasy novel. Or perhaps a telephone used to reach another world altogether…