Thursday, January 3, 2013
Not a white New Year
On the 31st I took a plane down to Tokyo and then went by train to Saitama prefecture (about 2 hours from the airport to the door of the house I went). In the south, there is no snow. Sometimes it snows, but it never stays on the ground. It does not feel like much of a winter to me if there is no snow.
It is quite warm outdoors, around 10℃ during the days, but they build houses that stay the same temperature indoors as outdoors, so it feels really really cold indoors to me. In Sweden, you can spend the winter in shorts and t-shirt when you are indoors.
In Sapporo, where it never gets that cold but at least goes down to -10℃ for long periods during the winter and can go below -20℃ on some days, people claim to have good heating. If you complain that Japanese houses have bad heating, people in Sapporo will tell you "That is in the south where it never gets cold. Here in Sapporo the heating/insulation/whatever is good". It may be better than in the south, but it is not "good". Maybe it is because they have to build houses to withstand countless earthquakes, but the houses are badly insulated so if you turn off the heating the house is cold in under 30 minutes. And the heating may make the spot in front of your gas burning stove super hot, but if you stand behind a sofa or go to a corner of the room, the same room that is as hot as a sauna close to the heater is more or less outside temperature in some spots... Strange to me.
But my friend's father who grew up in Asahikawa, which have winter temperatures of around -35℃, tells me it is much better now than when he was a kid. Waking up with (unmelted) snow in your room in the morning and having to crack ice in your sink that had frozen over during night was common...
Anyway, enough ranting about Japanese houses. Saitama was very nice, as always.