The First Snow

When I woke up this morning and opened the window, it was snowing.

This is the first snow of this year in Osaka. Osaka is located in the warm district, and it rarely snows. The minimum temperature of the day here is seldom less than zero degrees centigrade. In winter, cold wind blows from Siberia to Japan. The wind draws up water from the sea, and at the north side of the central mountains of Japan it pours the water as snow. As Osaka is in the south of the mountains, the air is dried, and fine weather continues in winter. When my friends from the north side of the mountains comes to Osaka in winter, they say, “Unbelievable! How blue is the sky!” However, depending on the direction of the wind, even in Osaka, it sometimes snows; perhaps twice or three times in a year.

The Japanese thinks something first of the year to be special. Being special is synonymous with being sacred. The Japanese in ancient days believed that the world was renewed during New Year holidays. Therefore, when the world experiences the first snow, we must celebrate it with gods. The ancient Japanese held some kind of ceremonies for the first snow of the year, but it is now forgotten. In “Manyôshû“, the oldest anthology of tanka, the short songs, edited in the 8th century, we find a song:

In the new year,
In the new spring,
It snows today.
As the snow piles up,
May good things fold up.

toshi no hajime no
hatsuharu no
kehu huru yuki no
iyashike yogoto

I believe this was a song sung in the ceremony for the first snow.

I took a picture from the window of my apartment. As you find in this picture, I live in the area with Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. It is in the urban middle, but it is a quiet place, and I love it.