Sunday, February 9, 2014

Snow Adventures

Yesterday Tokyo (and lots of Japan) was hit by a really big snowstorm.  Now, if you're from the Northeast or the Midwest maybe it wouldn't seem like such a big deal, but to someone from the south, and to everyone in Tokyo it was massive.  I've read reports that central Tokyo got 30 cm of snow which is a foot!  I didn't really believe it, but after stomping around on our roof this morning I'm more convinced.

So how did John and I spend our snow day?  Sitting on the couch watching the snow fall and drinking hot chocolate?  Making soup and having a netflix marathon?  Building a snowman in our neighborhood?  Oh no, we were much more foolish than that.  John had read about a liquor store about an hour outside of Tokyo that he wanted to visit.  Have I mentioned that John has become quite the bourbon enthusiast of late?  And we had been planning to go out to it.  We woke up to the falling snow and almost canceled our plans, but John checked the trains and they still seemed to be running on schedule.  We thought it might be nice to see the snow out in the country and take some pretty pictures, so we bundled up (not nearly enough) and headed off.  We made it out to where we were headed in Kanagawa prefecture with no trouble, and then had a freezing cold fifteen minute walk in the gusty snow.  The store itself was a little bit of a letdown, though we did get a nice bottle of champagne on sale.  So we rushed back to the station hoping for, but unable to find, a taxi on the snowy streets.  That's when things got interesting.

We needed to take a local train 3 stops to get on a rapid and then ride back into Tokyo where we could switch to the line that we lived on, but the trains were delayed.  We waited about 15 minutes for our train to show up, but finally it did.  When we got to our connection for the rapid train things really went wrong.  We waited on the snowy platform and finally our late train arrived and we packed onto it, but the doors remained open and the snow kept blowing in.  After standing there for about 20 minutes an announcement was made and everyone began rushing off the train.  We followed the crowd onto another train and waited there, damp and shivering, for what felt like forever.  Thankfully they closed most of the doors, but left a few open for people to keep boarding.  Eventually they made an announcement that we were about to leave, and then nothing happened.  The next announcement informed us that a switch on the tracks was frozen and they were having trouble fixing it.  After another ten or fifteen minutes of waiting we were directed to a third train.  It seemed like everyone in the whole station was directed to this train, and it was more crowded than any train I've ever been on - the yamanote at rush hour is nothing compared to this!  Finally the train departed, and it seemed like everyone was looking up to figure out what line we were on and where we were going.  It seemed like we were only supposed to go four stops and then no one knew what would happen, but when we got there they announced the train would be going farther, and then later announced it would be going all the way to Tokyo.  At that point the whole jam-packed train let our a huge sigh of relief.  It took over two hours, but finally we made it home! 

Today I read that many trains across the country were just canceled and people were stranded in hotels and internet cafes  in lots of rural areas.  We were so lucky to make it home!   First thing I took a hot bath to defrost, and then we ate some dinner.  That's right, we never had lunch during this ordeal and breakfast was only a cup of coffee and some blueberries - not a breakfast of champions!  Then we celebrated being home with our bottle of champagne - even making Bourbon 75s (French 75s with bourbon instead of gin).  Today the sun is out and the snow is starting to melt, but we've learned our lesson, we're staying inside and keeping warm.

Snowy View

Tennis Court Snowmen

Snowy Rooftop

Bourbon 75s

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