Today my friend Ebony shares what she loves about winter in Japan, and there are so many great things. Ebony is behind Hello Sandwich, a super colourful and inspiring design and craft blog that's had so many excellent off shoots. There's a cult Tokyo guide, the sweetest craft book and lots of exhibitions too. Every now and then I have to send her a message to say - Sandwich, you're living the dream! I am stoked to have her on the blog today to share what a Japanese winter is like:
When is winter in Japan and just how cold does it get? I think we're talking snow and snowmen!
February is the coldest month in Tokyo. It's also my favourite month in this amazing city. Scarves, coats, heated train seats, hot wine, oden at combini, nikuman... Ah, so good! It gets pretty chilly here in winter and it usually snows at least once or twice a year. A few years ago Tokyo had its biggest snowfall in 45 years.
Coming from Australia I adore the novelty of snow. Waking up to the silence of the snow covering the road, peeking out of my window to see everything covered in white, and then it's time for the race to grab my camera and put on my snow shoes to go and take photos.
Making snowmen is super fun, too!
One thing I love about spying on you via Instagram is seeing what you get up to with friends. In winter, do you find yourself doing anything different when you catch up? Are there activities you really look forward to?
Hah, thank you so much for following my Instagram! Well, we sometimes have winter picnics which you might have spotted on my Instagram or blog. We pack blankets, hot wine in a thermos and hang out in the afternoon sun until it goes down. We also have nabe (hot pot) home parties where we put a nabe on a portable gas stove on the dining table or better still, kotatsu. Guests bring ingredients for the nabe and we all sit around as the food cooks and warms us up at the same time.
I look forward to everything about winter. The freezing cold bathroom, waiting for hot water to finally go warm when I'm brushing my teeth from the hot water tap, cooking big pots of ojiya (soupy rice), hot water bottles in bed, the beautiful winter light...
When I visited Japan I found the country to be incredibly thoughtful, even when it came to buying a slice of takeaway cake. In winter does the city change in any way?
Absolutely! It's not uncommon to receive a hot hand pack when you leave a restaurant, or you might find blankets on the seats of your local cafe, and the menu changes a lot. Combini food changes from Hiyashichuka (cold summer noodles) to oden. And the vending machines start stocking hot drinks.
It's almost summer here in Tokyo and the other day I went to an izakaya with my 'beastie' (the name stuck after a typo) and they offered us the option of either a hot or cold oshibori (wet hand towel) because of the weather just changing seasons. Little things like that are a huge part of why I love this country - every little detail is considered!
Do you still ride your bike in winter? And if so - please tell me how!
I sure do! I wear gloves, a scarf and a pom pom-topped beanie and ride around. It used to be harder when I first got here when I was still needing to stop to look for directions and had to take one glove off to use my iPhone (the iPhone gloves aren't as cute as my pompom Vivienne Westwood gloves hah).
And finally do you have any tricks for staying warm? I think you sent me a stick on heat pack for my first Wagga winter :)
Ah, yes, those heat packs are definitely my winter saviour. I stick them on my back and carry some spare ones in my handbag during the colder months. Thick socks and thick soled shoes are also good, although I often just zip in and out of meetings so I tend to wear flats and bare the cold on the short trip to my local station. Otherwise, it's a great idea to carry a giant square scarf that can be worn around your neck or used as a mini blanket.
Thank you Ebony! I highly recommend following her on Instagram and Facebook. Her photos are bright, colourful and packed with polka dots. They always inspire me. I'd like to throw a Hello Sandwich style cheese and rose party some day soon :)
Photos by Ebony.