Farewell, winter in Hida Takayama

If I were in Hong Kong, I would have finished writing this ages ago. But here in Takayama, the winter is long, but thankfully, lovely. Even now, in early May, you feel chilly in the early morning and at night, and I have yet to put away my gasoline heater for fear that cold spells might catch me unguarded sometimes. And quite outrageously, we got snowfall even in early April this year when I was about to put away all my winter clothes, ready to embrace the long-awaited spring season. With the cherry blossoms in the city center having almost shed all its petals, blessing us with sakura shower, and the sun coming out more and more often to greet us, I can safely assume that spring is here (or maybe even summer, as the temperature sometimes goes up to around 27-28 sometimes!)..

After the cherry blossoms are gone, the next thing to look forward to is see the new leaves coming out, decorating the dull brown landscape with bright green color. Before the summer is upon us, I would like to take this time to reflect on my first winter in Takayama. Despite its almost unanimous unpopularity among the locals, I must say I love Takayama’s winter. Please allow me to defend my viewpoint before you start booing, throwing paper planes or stones at me, or kidnap me to the North Pole.

Winter is bitterly cold here, this I am not going to deny. I am definitely getting the brunt of the coldness here considering how poorly insulated my house is. That aside, I think I like every bit of other things of winter here in Takayama.

The biggest appeal to me is none other than the snowfall, enough to paint the landscape romantically white but not so much to block your entrance or bury your house, or bring the whole city to a standstill. And it is convenient to venture to more snowy regions to satisfy your occasional appetite for heavier snow, or even blizzard, if you are crazy. In terms of temperature, Takayama is also well-placed, in my opinion, as it does not rise too much above zero during winter so that the white landscape is more long-lasting, but not too low to totally discourage you to go outdoors at all. It also helps that Takayama is surrounded by mountains so that it seldom gets very windy. Coastal regions like Kanazawa does get a lot of snowfall during winter, but because of the relatively high temperatures there, the snow will also be gone pretty quickly after snowfall, and they get quite a lot of rain even during the winter season when the temperature is not low enough. And the snow they get is more often than not wet, and is easily reduced to disgusting sorbet-like state after being stepped on. While in Takayama we get relatively more powder snow, which is very lovely and comfortable to step on if you must forgive my kinkiness. This is one of the weird things I like to do during winter. Whenever there is fresh snow, I always look forward to stepping on the snow carpet, if the snow manages to stay on the ground, and enjoy the sound of my boots stepping on the snow, as well as the touch of your feet being supported by the snow after sinking a bit inside the snow.

I also like walking in the snow, with or without an umbrella. Unlike rain, snowfall falls silently, and during the night, even stealthily. When you are inside your room, without looking out the window, you never know whether it is snowing or not, unlike raindrops, snow does not beat on your rooftop and windows. So there is always an element of mystery and anticipation, and I will only know what is in store for me outside when I open my door or look out the window.


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