Snow, white and black.

Snow settled in Tokyo for the 3rd time this year.  3 times is enough,  anymore will be tedious.  When snow falls, Tokyo turns tenyawanya (bedlam); the trains run late, the pavements become impassable and all the cafes sell out of pastries.  It is hell.

Tokyo`s dry, sunlit winter is a tropical paradise compared to much of Japan.  Last February,  I led a tour in the north island of Hokkaido, where the snow arrives in October and stays until May.   The constant cold, one morning the temperature was minus 20, tested my leadership skills.  You can see my group in the picture below, walking away from me at speed.  Straight into a blizzard.

I was busy defrosting the map.


Christmas in Tokyo is dominated by cake: Valentine`s Day is about chocolate.  Like all true romance, Valentine`s Day is governed by strict rules.  All women/girls have to give chocolate to the men/boys in their office/classroom.  These gifts are called giri-choco (obligation chocolate).

Men seem to get a good deal out of this; they just wait to see what turns up on their desk.

Unfortunately, next month the roles are reversed.  On March 14th, White Day, the men/boys have to give a present in return to the women/girls.  The chocolate can`t be recycled.  This present should cost 3 times the value of the original chocolate.

It all sounds too stressful and complicated.  It might be easier if I took both days off.  Then on April 14th, I could join in the Black Day celebrations/commiserations.  Black Day parties are for those who missed out on both Valentine`s Day and White Day. Everybody eats noodles coated in black bean paste.  It all sounds great.  But sadly Black Day is only celebrated/commiserated in Korea.

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