We here in New York and Massachusetts and Colorado and Minnesota are not the only ones having quite the winter. My sister Beth who lives in Japan recently sent me this:
Like Seattle, a mere handful of inches of snow can stop Tokyo in its tracks, literally. I did not have my usual Sunday lesson today because the trains were not running.
We had more than Tokyo, though, and could not open the shutters that protect our balcony doors this morning. Once we did (see photo), we understood why. More snow in one night than for any time in forty-five years, according to the neighbors. (Takeshi estimated their snow was between 30 and 40 centimeters—that is 12 to 15 inches of snow in a place not known for snow!).
Nothing like what we grew up with in Rochester, but thrilling for the neighborhood kids. We usually get a few inches, once or twice a winter. Last year when we got some, I took, gingerly, my usual walk around the neighborhood and found a tiny snowman (8 inches tall, maybe?), Japanese style: like ghosts, their snowmen have no feet, so there were only two round spheres, and even in making that small figure, all the snow in the tiny yard had had to be used.
Back at 2846--2002 or so? Alison,Paul, Matt, with Nick and Brian in Front
But Tohoku (the prefectures north of us that got whacked by the 2011 triple disaster) and Hokkaido (the northern island) get a ton. I was reminded of that watching the Japanese favorite to win the men’s figure skating, Yuzuru Hanyu. He is all elegance and strength, a young man (only 19) totally absorbed in the story he is telling on ice. I have watched his wins in the past few years (thank you, YouTube) and seen that quintessential Japanese humbleness and grace, a deep bow, when he won, which for some reason moved me almost to tears.
Then I found out that he was from Sendai (the only major city to be hit, badly, by the tsunami), and was in fact practicing on the ice when the earthquake struck. He ran outside in his skating shoes and spent the next three days in a shelter. His home had been damaged in the earthquake, as had the rink he practiced at. He said he had thought about quitting after March 11, but then slowly realized that he could skate for people to cheer them up. And so he did.
He is known, in skating circles, for the height of his jumps. One announcer said when he is on, and makes his jumps, he is spectacular, but when he is not, his falls, too are spectacular. I saw a few of his routines where he fell, but what I was noticed was how he immediately righted himself and got back into his routine flawlessly, not letting the fall replay in his mind as you can often see with other skaters.
That, to me, is Tohoku.
Thank you Beth! Can’t wait to see what Yuzuru Hanyu does in these Olympics!