Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Snow

Vernal Equinox

Time zones make the timing of scientific things, like the vernal equinox, occur on different days. In the U.S., the vernal equinox occurred on March 20, 2018. However, with Japan being 13+ hours ahead, the vernal equinox occurred on March 21st. In Japan, the vernal equinox is a national holiday! Here is a graphic shared by the base explaining more about the traditions.

March 21st is also special because it is our anniversary. Our photo order from the Seabee Ball arrived earlier this week. I think it is a great picture of us.

Just like many of you waking up on Wednesday morning, believe it or not, we also had snow on the vernal equinox. Clearly, Mother Nature has a sense of humor! We knew it was supposed to rain today. We had no idea the snow was forecasted!

If it wasn’t so beautiful, it would be annoying. Ahhh, the wabi-sabi of life.

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Fortunately, the temperatures are supposed to warm up in the next 24 hours. This white stuff won’t be around too long. Maybe Mother Nature was just trying to delay the Sakura blossoms a day or two. Good things come to those who wait, patiently.

Tokyo Take Two

Thursday morning we woke up to a wintery mix. We took our time getting organized hoping the weather would break. The weather was still messy by the time we finished breakfast and checked out of our room. Oh, well. That’s one of my rules. “Don’t let the weather stop you.” Instead, we stopped at the closest Family Mart and invested in lightweight umbrellas. Perhaps, the best purchase of the day!

On our agenda today was exploring Asakusa. Asakusa is located on the NE side of Tokyo. We were in the SW corner. It took us about 40 minutes on the train to transit over.

Our first stop was to visit the Sensō-ji Temple. Sensō-ji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo. It is very significant and attracts 30 million visitors every year. Cindy and I accounted for two of those visitors today.

The Temple is huge. I was especially excited because I haven’t been to this temple in over a year. Last time Dave and I visited was during Tokyo marathon weekend. At that time, the pagoda was undergoing renovations. I was able to see the pagoda for the first time today!

The snow, the pagoda, and the temple made for a magical experience. Check out all the people!

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I’m so glad we made the trip over to see the Temple. It truly is a magnificent structure and the gardens are amazing even in the rain/ snow.

Cindy was able to have another stamp added to her book at the Senso-ji Temple and also at the Asakusa Shrine.

Since we were in the area, I wanted to take Cindy to see another of my favorite Shrines. The Imoda Shrine or Lucky Cat Shrine. It’s so cute and the coupled cats are said to bring good luck and love to marriages. Who doesn’t need a little extra of either?

My favorite thing to discover at certain Shrines is the “May Peace Prevail On Earth” signs. The sign coupled with the serenity of the Shrine and the beauty of gardens truly makes my heart happy. I can’t help but believe that every one of the wishes tied on the prayer wall are wishes of peace, goodness, and well being.

By this point in the day, we were starting to get chilly and wet from the winter mix. We worked our way back to the shopping area around Asakusa. We shopped for a few items and then worked our way to Shibuya. We had one shopping spot to visit before heading home. My favorite. Tokyu Hands.

The only thing holding us back while shopping was the reminder we still had to get back home with all of our purchases!

Today, without intention, I treated Cindy to a true wabi-sabi experience. The weather was definitely imperfect, but the opportunity to see the Temple and pagoda in a little bit of snow was pretty fun. Of the 30 million visitors, how many had a chance to experience it in snow? She was such a trooper. I teased her at one point and said I was glad she was my sister in law from Chicago – otherwise, we might not have left the hotel! To her, this was a messy winter day at home!

We worked our way home and enjoyed a cold beer and Garrett’s popcorn as an appetizer to the white bean chicken chili Dave made this morning in the crockpot. Ahhhh. After two days in Tokyo, there’s no place like home!

Sapporo Festival Highlights

Besides the amazing snow sculptures, another highlight of the Snow Festival was watching skiers and snowboarders at the Air Park. The Air Park has two areas, one for jumping and one for moguls.

Friday night we enjoyed watching the mogul competition. It was impressive to watch considering the size of the arena.

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I took a couple of short clips of the different riders. The tandem jumpers were really cool to watch.

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Three riders are impressive. But, how about six!

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We returned on Saturday to catch some of the jumping during the daytime. The riders were practicing their jumps and despite their falls, I remained impressed.

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How about backwards!

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Or on a snowboard!

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It was fun to watch the athletes. They seemed to be having a great time.

Another fun attraction was visiting the Sapporo TV tower.

We were able to go to the observation deck. From the observation deck, we had a fantastic view of the festival and the city of Sapporo.

We rode the elevator to the top and took the stairs down. The signs cracked us up!

We posed for a couple of tourist photos… because that’s what we are! The first one is of me and the Sapporo TV Tower mascot.

One last video from the weekend. We had lunch on Saturday at a sushi restaurant in Sapporo. While we ate, we had a great view of the fish monger preparing the fish. I could have watched him all day. He truly was a professional.

We made it home on Sunday without issue. The Snow Festival was better and the trip was more fun than I ever expected. The experience was fantastic. Thanks for reading about our adventures!

Snow Festival Saturday

We spent Saturday walking around the Snow Festival and enjoying the sculptures. The size was still impressive.

With less crowds and daylight, we could take our time walking around the festival and sculptures. I found this information about the construction of the final Fantasy XIV snow sculpture. Even though the explanation is in Japanese, if you look at the pictures, you can get a better understanding of how they are constructed

Daytime events seemed to be catered more towards kids and families. At the building, they had kids on stage shooting baskets. I loved how the building looked blue in the daylight.

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At the Pacific Music Festival sculpture, kids were performing traditional dance.

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Speaking of kids, I couldn’t get over all the little cuties in their snowsuits. Adorable.

We quickly figured out the favorite sculpture for kids. The Cup Noodle. It was actually an ice slide!

My favorite was still the Temple. It is a replication of the Great Lecture Hall at the Yakushi-ji Temple in Nara. The building was created using ice blocks. A team of 3,800 people completed the structure in 28 days!

At the other large building structure, a lady was singing. Notice she is holding a clear umbrella to keep her dry as the snow fell. So, cute!

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It was fun to walk around the snow sculptures during the day and learn more about how they were constructed and see the kids enjoying them. Dave and I both agreed they seemed “cooler” at night with the lights.

Snow Beautiful

The snow on Monday caused a lot of chaos. The roads were a mess and the trains were delayed. It took Dave an extra 30 minutes to get home on the trains. One friend told us it took him 2.5 hours to drive home to Ikego from main base (usually this drive takes 25 minutes). The schools on base had a snow day Tuesday and the base told only essential personnel to report. Dave didn’t leave until around 8:00am. I decided to walk down the hill to the train station with him and go for a walk. My walk/train rides took me to Kamakura. My first stop was to see the Great Buddha. He was beautiful covered in his snow blanket.

Instead of taking the Enoshima line train back to Kamakura station, I decided to walk along the beach. It was worth the trip! Don’t let the water color fool you! It would be very chilly. Look at all the snow on the beach.

I continued my walk towards the Hachiman-gu Shrine. As I was walking along the street, I kept hearing this horrible sound (like a belt slipping) coming from many of the passing cars. It took me a couple minutes and then I realized, most of the buses and delivery trucks had chains on their tires! Ha! I haven’t seen those in a while!

The Shrine was very beautiful in the snow.

As I was taking the last picture, I noticed people were entering the Peonies Garden. Surely, it’s not open? Yes, yes it was! I decided to take a walk through. I haven’t been since last April. Dave and I went to view the Sakura trees and peonies. The peonies were beautiful in the snow. Instead of parasols to keep off the rain, they had straw huts to protect them from the snow. Kawaii!

I was shocked and confused to see the gardens open and peonies blooming. Especially, because we went to visit them in April last year. A little research and I learned the garden is open from New Year’s Day until mid-February. It opens again at the beginning of April until the middle of May. So, good news for my friends visiting in April, you will have a chance to see the gardens for yourself! We will keep our fingers crossed the Sakura trees are also blooming that week! 🤞🏼🌸

I also learned about this unique garden. The stones were a present from the Chinese government in 1984. In China, peonies were planted with these unique and famous stones from Taigi Lake in Jiangsu Province in Eastern China. The stones are now protected by Chinese law and can no longer be exported.

By the time I was returning home around noon, a lot of the snow had melted. The sunshine and rising temperatures helped restore things back to normal. The snow was beautiful while it lasted!

Snow Day

You would not even believe the amount of snow we received today. I still can’t believe it. The snow started around 10 am. It snowed briefly and then stopped.

Around noon it started snowing again. It hasn’t stopped. It’s a very wet snow and sticking to everything!

You know what’s funny, at the Ikebana event on Saturday, Miki told me it was going to snow today. Monday? Really? Hai! No. It’s just supposed to rain. This is definitely not rain! I will never doubt her about the weather again!

The snow is so wet and sticky it makes the trees look beautiful.

The good thing about all the snow, it gives me an excuse to don my hot pink snow pants.

Watching snow fall is so peaceful.

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We left our snow shovel in Great Lakes. I’ve gone out a several times to sweep off our front porch and sidewalk. It’s a big slushy mess.

The toll road between where we live and the base has closed. Needless to say, Dave will need to take the train home. I’m sure they will be delayed as well. The schools have already posted a two-hour delay for tomorrow. I know this sounds familiar to many of you. The good news for us, the temperature is supposed to be in the 50s tomorrow. I don’t think our winter wonderland will last too long!

One last owl planter picture. So much snow!! I took this last set at 18:30 on Monday and it is still snowing!

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