Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Living away from home for long periods seems to give a distorted view of what home was like. For example, since coming to Japan, I have forgotten exactly how dangerous it was there and my memories are that my hometown----if you could call it a town---was much, much, safer than ultra-safe Japan (apples and oranges, but that is acceptable when discussing Japan). Just like my wife had forgotten how safe Japan was when we lived in the States during the Japanese real estate bubble. She would lay awake at night (or have nightmares) worrying about real estate agency hiring some yakuza-connected thug to persuade her parents to sell their home by setting it on fire or running a truck through it.

This sort of distortion affects people in other ways. I find myself wearing heavier clothing than I ever would have before when the "winter" temperature drops to a frigid 50 degrees outside. I start thinking like everyone else, that this is cold weather. I have never seen an icicle in the city in Tokyo, and very, very, rarely see frost and snow is a once or twice a year rarity. (Oh, yea. Global warming. And maybe a latitude on the 35th parallel like that of the southern US states of Georgia/North Carolina?)

It ain't only me. I was talking with a guy from Chicago who told me about how cold Tokyo was. He then predicted below freezing overnight, although I knew that the unreliable weather forecast predicted 45 degrees---and they turned out to be right.

Since I am unable to tell when winter is in the only land with four seasons without a calendar, I have to refer to my own records sometimes to remember that it is winter at this time of year, not a 5-month long March.

One year ago today, the first of two snowfalls hit Tokyo. I fear that there will be none this year which, for one who enjoys winter, will just serve as an exclamation point for how things seem to be going.

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