- Rain all the weekend – cloudy and depressing just like back in Britain but… it’s getting warmer. Spring is coming.
- While the plumber is round fixing those burst pipes we discover that our boiler is leaking. It’s 26 years old so it’s not all that surprising, but the new eco-boiler will set us back some ¥250,000…
- Yamada san drops in. You might have an image of the Japanese as incredibly smartly dressed at all times, but he’s an exception to that stereotype. Today’s attire is a pair of nondescript slacks, what look like old carpet slippers and a down jacket that’s stuck all over with little bits of black insulating tape. (Presumably there were holes underneath.) He’s a great guy.
- Min. temp. -4°C, max. 11°C
- The Japanese like marathons! To me running is something you do if being pursued by a large dangerous animal, and not otherwise, but amazingly there seem to be people who actually enjoy it, and there are many events here involving this kind of self-torture. Apparently the pain causes the body to release endorphins, which give you a high… Anyway, Sunday this week is the date of yet another Nagoya Marathon of some kind and to avoid the traffic jams we head out of town on Saturday evening after Raffles closes. As we leave at 11:00PM the temperature is 9°C but while we’re driving through Nagoya it soon drops to 6.5. The town looks different from its usual Sunday midday mode of course, and there are long queues in front of the ramen shops. Only the ramen shops though. We arrive at our place in the hills at 1:00AM and -2°C. While sleeping, try to stay in the warm zone of the futon.
- Sunday is beautiful with a clear blue sky but a cold, going on icy, wind. Spring starts suddenly here and though all we have so far are a few daffodil and tulip shoots (will the deer eat them?) it’s as if it’s taking a deep breath before bursting into full bloom. Later in the afternoon it clouds over as the weather forecast promised, and at 3:30PM it starts snowing. We wrote off the Winter too soon.
- Of course Sunday is 3/11, one year after the Tohoku disaster which killed nearly 20,000 people and disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands. There are still more than 300,000 people in temporary accommodation, many without work and unemployment benefit running out. (It’s only paid for a limited period here.) There are some 23 million tons of debris still to be disposed of, although some of it floated out to sea and is now reaching Hawaii.
- The emperor is barely out of hospital for a cancer operation, but went up to Tohoku to give a speech. I’m sure it was appreciated. Now, records show that the showa emperor (the current emperor’s father) shared some responsibility for the conduct of the last war, but basically since the Meiji era the emperor has been a figurehead, living relatively simply on a public budget, and still quite popular.
- It snowed again on Sunday night and Monday morning is white. A bit less cold though.
- The new boiler came with a 38 page instruction manual.
- I’m busy clipping our tea bushes – not so much because we plan to pick and sell tea, but because if you leave tea bushes alone they grow into trees several metres high. If we ever wanted to sell the property it might possibly be better to have the tea bushes in working order, so to speak.
- Min. temp. -2°C, max. 12°C
- A gloomy wet Sunday, but at least it’s warm. It’s been a long cold winter but this seems to be Spring at last.
- Nakagawa-san the plumber calls and has time for a chat. It seems local businesses are even off than in Nagoya, if anything. A beautiful thatch-roofed building on the main road is due to be demolished. It was a drive-in restaurant, but the new motorway to Takayama has drained off all the business. (Minshukus in Shirakawa are feeling the pinch too, because the new highway means there’s no longer any need to stop overnight.) Nakagawa-san gives us our key back, and his bill. It’s 300,000 yen. This isn’t great news, to be honest…
- Do some more tea-clipping. The shears need oiling and the squeak seems to be getting responses from a nearby bird.
- Monday is cold again and I’m getting numb fingers – spring’s like this – but the cherry blossom will be out in two weeks or so!
- There are flags out in front of the shrine at the bottom of the hill, ready for the matsuri tomorrow. It’s usually on a nice spring day, but this year’s might be chilly. We’ll miss this one, but sometimes it’s on a Sunday so we can catch it.
- Min. temp. -5°C, max. 10°C
- Yet another unpleasant Sunday! The Winter’s back and the wind in Nagoya is biting. Rain and sun alternate all day and as we get near the house there’s snow on the ground in places! Inside, and it starts snowing again. This is very late – usually the cherry blossom is coming out in Nagaoya around this time.
- No fukinoto? Too cold? Taken by someone/something?
- A little bit of tea clipping before leaving early to see “The Iron Lady” back in town.
- A van drives past selling laundry poles – two for ¥1000 – the same price as 20 years ago. The fact is, everything is the same price as 20 years ago. Or cheaper.
- Min. temp. -2°C, max. 10°C