Of All The Things… What Japanese Winter Looks Like   

Greetings to you all who read the Chit ChatCafe blogs and visit us! I’m Juliana, and I began working at CCC in summer,2017. I am from Finland, and I came to Japan in September 2016. I have alreadybeen in Japan for a year and a half! Basically this is my second winter here inSapporo, and I have plenty of experience with snow back in Finland, which hasmade my winter time in Sapporo very interesting. I had some expectations aboutthe Japanese before I came here, which I believe are similar to what other foreignershave thought of the Japanese people and the everyday life here. However, as Ihave spent more than a year here, I have realized that not all of myexpectations were met, and there is a surprising gap between how we handleeveryday things in Finland and here in Japan. I will mostly talk about commonthings like the snow and the houses’ heating systems.

Now, first of all, Finland is very coldcompared to Sapporo. On average, we have -20C , or -25C in winter. Some remoteplaces have -30C of freezing degrees. However, I always enjoyed my winters inFinland, because our houses are built to be very warm. We have three layers inour windows and thick walls with heat insulation, so it’s always +23C indoors.That’s why I was surprised to see in Japan that people have heaters. Why wouldyou need a heater if the house is warm by itself? Well, Japanese houses havevery thin windows and walls, so it gets very cold even indoors. I was verysurprised at this! Winter comes every year, so why not build better housesinstead of buying dangerous gas heaters?Of course there are many kinds of heaters such halogen and kerosene, but itnevertheless made me question the famous Japanese efficiency and thoughtfulness of Japan. Good houses are important, andseasons come every year.

Another thing that surprised me in the winterof 2016-2017 (and still does) is the way Hokkaido handles snow. The very firstproper snow that I experienced here in Sapporo was before Christmas of 2016. Iwas going to my part-time job at the Munchen Christmas Market in Odori, butsuddenly the way to the subway was full of snow. It was already past noon, butthe road apart from the car lane was full of snow, and I ended up falling overa lot. I was very confused. In Finland, that amount of snow would have beentaken out of the road by 08:00 in the morning by the city’s own snow plowers.But there it was, all the snow in Sapporo. Only a small, narrow path forpedestrians to walk on, and sprain their ankles in the bumpy snow. Even if mostof the snow is taken from the road, it still leaves ice behind, and walkinggets slippery. In Finland we use rocksand to make the roads easier to walk on, and so does Sapporo. However, here inSapporo it is up to every person to sprinkle the sand on the road, it’s not thecity’s responsibility. Most of the time, the amount of sand is nowhere nearenough in Sapporo. I was especially worried for all of the elderly people,grandmothers and grandfathers of Sapporo. It’s very difficult for older peopleto move around in winter, and if they break their bones, they may not be ableto walk.

In Sapporo, it is cold indoors, and walkingaround can be extremely difficult at times. Because of this kind of winter herein Sapporo, I have sometimes missed Finland. However, surprisingly, I like thequality of the snow more here in Sapporo. It’s soft, airy, dry, powdery. It’slike the ultimate winter wonderland. Nowadays in Finland, it’s not guaranteedto snow for Christmas, which is a shame. But here in Sapporo we get snow quiteearly, which feels good in December. A snowy Sapporo looks the best with themountains in clear view. This is what I like about winter in Sapporo.

How do you feel about winter here in Sapporo?


Juliana (Finland)


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by chitchatcafe | 2018-02-03 17:36

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