When I looked out the window last night I saw a city covered in white. There is something about snow that makes me think of being a child, something nostalgic that makes it magical. I decided that if the snow was lying today I would go for a walk and take pictures of the local area. In my head it sounded almost romantic. I could take pictures of the local shrine, the river, of the flowering hedges, and the bare branches of the cherry blossoms draped in snow. The reality was somewhat different.
I set an alarm to get up at sunrise, which highlights the fact that I wasn’t thinking straight. This morning I ignored the alarm and two hours later wandered on to the balcony and took a few pictures of the view.
View towards Kita-Senju
It did look beautiful and once I was dressed in many layers of clothes I ventured outside. I wasn’t even a block away from the apartment when Marty’s strange comment about snowboarding started to make sense. He had rang from the train station, when I was still half asleep, and said something about being glad that he’d been snowboarding all weekend. Once I tried walking on the ice I realised that he was talking about balance. I had forgotten how hard it is to walk on half-frozen snow. Instead of enjoying the view I spent my time concentrating on my feet. Instead of walking without thinking every step became deliberate. I like to walk briskly and was not pleased to realise that it was moving at least three times slower than my usual walking pace.
Then there were the roads. I wasn’t that far from the apartment when I saw a snowman. I’ve never seen one in Tokyo and I wanted to take a picture, but that meant crossing the road. Since there was a zebra crossing conveniently placed beside the snowman this should have been really easy. But the roads hadn’t been gritted and I noticed the snowman because I had been watching two men attempt to push a van that was stuck in the ice. The zebra crossing was covered in a sheet of thick ice. So I stood and waited until the road was clear because I had no idea how long it would take me to cross it and I wasn’t keen to find out if the cars could actually stop at it.
I soon discovered that it was better to walk on the shaded side of the street, as it’s easier to walk on snow rather than ice, and that I should avoid areas that had been cleared. There were people outside many of the buildings attempting to clear up the snow. What they were actually doing was creating icy death-traps that looked safe to walk on as it was hard to see the thin layers of ice.
I did manage to get to the river and at that point walking became easier. There were lots of young children out playing and I did get to see the frozen flowers and the trees. But I didn’t find the shrine. I have been there before, but I just couldn’t remember which part of the river it was close to. I usually cycle in that area, not walk, and everything look really different covered in snow. I really wanted to take pictures of the shrine but my legs were starting to hurt from all the deliberate walking, and I was a bit lost. I then remembered Marty telling me last night that there was no way I would remember where the shrine was and that I should look it up before I left the house.
View towards Sky Tree
As I was just about to leave the Shiori Park area I was able to find a map. (Even writing that makes me feel stupid, after all I had my iPhone in my bag, have an unlimited data plan, and access to lots of maps…) The shrine was about 2 kilometers back the way I had just walked, if I went back along the river. I have a fondness for walking along the river as it’s hard to get lost doing that. It’s in no way the shortest route, as it curves, but usually the extra walking doesn’t bother me. Today I decided to try a new route through the streets, aching legs will do that, and I did manage to find the shrine. When I got there it was no longer as pretty as I had imagined as the snow was melting. But I took pictures anyway and then slowly made my way home.
By the time I got back home both my legs were aching at the top. I think I must have been waddling, a bit like an un-cute penguin. Maybe the next time I feel like going for a walk in the snow I’ll remember some of this and stay inside.