The temperature reached around 18 degrees in Tokyo today, warm enough to leave my trusty long johns under the bed and to injure February`s image as the coldest month.
This morning I left my guesthouse extra early. I wanted to see the plum blossoms at Yushima Tenmangu. This year I have been making a conscious effort to improve my relationship with winter, to try and find it`s hidden virtues. Surely it can`t be THAT bad. Viewing plum blossoms was part of this vague plan to rehabilitate winter. I wasn`t confident though; I have had absolutely no training in flower staring.
At 8:30am, the bench-seats on the Sobu line train into central Tokyo are always occupied. I try and read while leaning against the shiny, sheet-metal, sliding doors.
In my current book, Geisha in Rivalry, one of the characters is an old writer living in intimacy with the seasons – “[He] counts the buds of the plum that bloomed at the winter solstice.” The passage gave me an idea: I didn`t have to stare aimlessly at the plum buds anymore, I could count them. I could even record the bud count in a notebook and input the numbers into an Excel chart. But as it turned out, I could not even find the plum trees, let alone count its buds.
Fortunately, the old writer was not only a flower man, he also knew “the true pleasure of winter confinement: the cup of tea brewed at midnight.” Now that`s a much easier winter pleasure to relate to.