Home > Lifestyle > Viewpoints
Monday March 3, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday March 3, 2014 MYT 7:59:20 AM
by sarah mori
The writer’s car is buried in snow.
Snowstorms have widespread repercussions.
THE biggest snowstorm since 1998 slammed Tokyo and its surrounding areas on Feb 8. As if that was not enough, Mother Nature dumped more snow on Feb 14 and 15.
Widespread repercussions could still be felt a week later. Prices of vegetables skyrocketed. I looked at a packet of capsicums at a convenience store in Yokohama. My goodness! Two for ¥105 (RM3.40)! Then at another convenience store, a packet of three cucumbers cost ¥228 (RM7.35).
Prefectures such as Saitama, Gunma and Yamanashi were badly affected. Farms and greenhouses were damaged. Some areas experienced blackouts and fuel shortages. Factories and snow-laden roads were closed.
Delivery of food and other daily commodities were disrupted, causing some convenience stores and supermarkets in Yamanashi to close temporarily.
Two helicopters were chartered on Feb 17 to deliver 3,200 buns to several 7-eleven stores and one Ito-Yokado supermarket in Yamanashi.
Many suffered from the harsh snowfalls. But a 77-year old woman in Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, had the snow to thank for, because it helped foil a fraudulent stock transaction involving ¥2mil (RM64,510) in cash which she had sent in a parcel to a scammer on Feb 14. The snow crippled transportation networks, thus delaying the delivery of her parcel which was kept at a post office in Yokohama.
Three days later, the woman got a call from a man telling her that he had not received her parcel yet. She then enquired at a post office in her neighbourhood and learned that her package was at Yokohama post office.
Since there have been similar scams and after hearing that the parcel contained a large sum of money addressed to a man, the employee at the post office became suspicious and contacted the Yokohama post office to stop the delivery. The money was later returned to the woman.
For that woman, this year’s snowfall must have been something to remember.
For my Malaysian friend living in Yokohama, she had carrots to reminisce about. Why carrots? Well, she ran out of potatoes when she cooked Malaysian chicken curry for dinner. Since the roads were blanketed in thick snow on Feb 8, she couldn’t go grocery shopping. So she substituted carrots for potatoes.
I injured my elbow on Feb 16 when I slipped and fell on an icy slope while walking to take a bus. The pain was so excruciating that I sought medical attention from the emergency unit of a hospital. Fortunately, it was only a sprain.
My husband was shocked to see a mountain of snow on the porch when he opened the door to shovel away the snow. Our car was almost buried in snow and the flight of stairs leading to the gate had transformed into a mini ski slope. We had to watch out for huge slabs of slush which fell off our rooftop.
I was amused by a picture circulating on the Internet. It showed an employee donning a cup noodle costume while shovelling snow on the sidewalk of Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama. Despite the heavy rainfall on Feb 8, the museum stayed open and turned more creative.
The sleet on Feb 14 and 15 made the accumulated snow even denser and harder to clear. People were seen using dustpans, trowels, wooden boards and buckets to remove the snow.
The task of clearing the snow was hampered in some areas by a shortage of snow-disposal sites and stranded vehicles. Kofu prefecture resorted to using school grounds to dispose of its 114cm of snow.
Drivers were stranded with empty stomachs along major roads in eastern Japan on Feb 16 as food items were sold out at supermarkets and stores. A supermarket in Kofu had to limit the purchase of instant noodles per family. Many areas in Tokyo were also hit by a shortage of food supply.
On a highway at Annaka in Gunma, some drivers had to walk more than an hour to buy food at a convenience store. Even so, food was scarce there, so a 33-year-old truck driver who was stranded for more than 30 hours, had to share food with strangers. We were on tenterhooks when we heard that it would snow again on Feb 20. Thankfully, it didn’t.
And the point of writing, piles of slush still remain on the waysides in many places. Hopefully, it won’t snow any more for this year.
Sarah Mori, a Malaysian married to a Japanese, resides in Japan. The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.
Tags / Keywords:
Opinion, Lifestyle, snowfall
Snowstorms have widespread repercussions.
A steaming bowl of 'oden' takes the chill off winter.
'Kei cars' have become popular in Japan.
The Japanese go to great lengths to demonstrate their love for nuigurumi.
You can walk about in Japan with peace of mind as the crime rate is very low.
Sarah Mori enriches the mind with stories about the customs, traditions and culture in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Copyright © 1995-2014 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)