Hirosaki: Snow

Coming to northern Aomori prefecture in February is asking for trouble. I deserve this: no trains are going back to my destination, Hirosaki today. Gosetsu, great snow, has disrupted the rail network.

I am stuck in the country town of Goshowara waiting for a replacement bus to take me to a capsule hotel in Hirosaki. The snow is so heavy, they have run out of places to put it. This yukiguni, snow country, maybe pretty but it is not a place for humans, an old man grumbled to me yesterday.

100 people have died in Japan this year clearing snow. Each day brings a new battle against the white stuff: young men are the busiest on the front line driving snow ploughs; a Dads’ Army of pensioners shovels residential streets; and kids and old women shovel the porch – all work while wearing half the clothes I am waddling about in.

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