Daily Archives: January 13, 2010

Winter in Japan

Japan’s a long country from north to south, and winter varies widely depending on where you are.  In Okinawa, it’s subtropical and warm.  In Hokkaido, it’s cold and snowy.  In the bulk of the country, it depends on which side of the country you’re on.  The Sea of Japan side is very snowy, as are the interior mountains.  The Pacific Ocean side is generally free of snow, but it does get dusted by the white stuff one or two days a year.  I’m in the middle of the country on the Pacific coast.  In fact, I live a 13 minute monorail ride from a very popular beach.  This area is a mild part of Japan, and it usually doesn’t freeze.  Last winter, I didn’t see any snow at all.  I’ve heard there’s been snow in Tokyo and Saitama this winter.  I haven’t seen any here in Kanagawa, though.  It may have snowed somewhere in Kanagawa, but I didn’t see it.  Maybe I will yet.

People in the Tokyo area aren’t accustomed to significant snow.  But when it does fall, the sound of tire chains fills the air.  Not exactly a winter tire region.  No one really needs them here, anyway.

Also, homes aren’t insulated well, since more than half of the year is warm (20 degrees or higher can be experienced from late March to November).  There’s also no central heating, so people usually heat their homes with small heaters, kotatsu (a low table with a heater underneath) or air conditioners (yes, they’re also heaters in Japan).  I have a kotatsu, but I haven’t used it for heat.  I usually use the air conditioner.  However, I am very tempted to plug this table in.

I’m looking forward to spring, so I don’t have to wear my coat inside my own apartment.

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