Sapporo’s average snowfall for January is 182cm. This figure means absolutely nothing to me but I include it in case it means anything to anyone reading who knows about this kind of thing. A figure you may understand is that Sapporo has an average of 28.1 snowy days in January. And if that means nothing to you, then clearly your major source of information is probably one of Rupert Murdoch’s news services, in which case: The Snowpocalypse is here and the government is to blame.

Last week, I didn’t see the Great Fiery Ball in the Sky for three full days and, in fact, nor did I see more than the shadowy outline of the nearest buildings from out of our window. At the end of this, when the snow gods paused to draw breath for half a day, our balcony looked like this:

Hmm maybe I won't have breakfast on the balcony today.

As my days in Japan are numbered, Kazuko and I had been invited along on a family trip to yet another onsen in Jozankei. I was due to meet Kazuko in town so the break in the weather gave me a chance to finally stretch my legs without coming home looking like a snowman so I went out to inspect the snow’s affect on the neighbourhood.

One of the joys of living in a house in Sapporo is spending your winter clearing away snow. As I’m in a big block of flats, this is not at all my problem but I was pleased to see many of the neighbours throwing themselves into the task.

Fire up the snow machine.

Although snow gets cleared off the streets, I get the impression the local council doesn’t bother with the footpaths and leaves them up to community-minded citizens to look after. At least I think that’s why some footpaths are regularly cleared and others aren’t. The snow just gets piled from both sides into the gap between the footpath and road so that in some places there is already a five-foot high pile. I find the pile quite reassuring as I imagine it will act as a good buffer if a car ever hits an icy patch and spins out of control.

As I strolled through the university, I found that although I lacked the necessary courage to go for a bike ride on the snow,  this bloke wasn’t the least concerned:

He didn't even have snow tyres.

Most people weren’t so brave and I don’t think any of these bike will be used again this winter:

and somehow I think they may not get used once the snow melts either.

In town, I met Kazuko and then we met up with Masako, Kii-chan, Sakurako and Kazuko’s mum and we all drove up to Jozankei to stay at quite a small onsen. The baths were very simple ones but Kazuko assured me they were very good because this onsen doesn’t water down their water, so to speak. As ever, the food was sensational and I felt like a king being served such a great variety of small dishes:

The initial spread

Fried on hot rocks.

Fish on a stick! And to think I was looked at strangely for eating the spine and bones.

Here we all are.

Kazuko got stuck into the crab's legs.

Kii-chan and I got stuck into the beer and sake, we all had another bath and finally we bedded down for the night.

I'm pretty sure it was Kazuko who was snoring.

And after a nice night away, we got back to town just in time for the snow to start up again:

It's a snownami!

But I’ve been enjoying the snow happy in the knowledge that I’ll soon be leaving it all behind. In fact, this may well be my last blog post from Japan. I’m teaching my last classes for the term on Tuesday and then heading straight to the airport to get the next flight to Perth. Apart form some trivial teaching and inventing grades for my students, I’ve spent my final days drinking heavily with my Team Attic team-mates (well just one evening, actually but it all ended badly for me. I see now why all-you-can-drink deals are no longer legal in Australia), and planning for our big tour of Hokkaido in April and May. My planned course so far looks like this:

The plan so far.

That’s 1400km of cycling on that map so far. Clearly I’m going to have to leave the Trucker here and try to return for an annual tour for the next few years at least.

Righto – that’s all from me for now. Next post should be from Perth.

13 Comment on “Snowpocalypto

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