水曜日, 11月 25, 2009
The Tame Article (written for January)
My Hiroshima Winters
By Greg Beck
This marks my fourth winter living in Hiroshima, and being an American raised in the hot, dry, desert, what an evolution I’ve experienced! I’ll never forget when I bought my first sweater. Probably because that happened only four years ago! Tucson, Arizona, where I have spent most of my life, is located in the Sonoran Desert, near the Mexican border. In the winter, after the sun sets, the temperature drops quickly and there is often frost on the windshields and lawns of dead grass. But if you own one jacket and drive everywhere in a car with a heater, you will never notice this nocturnal-only season.
I moved to Ondo, Hiroshima in August 2006, and it was hot, muggy, and beautiful. Fall flew by with amazing island views of deciduous trees, mixed with green pines and grey skies on deep-blue ocean, and jutting, mountainous backdrops. Then, all of the sudden, I was freezing. Not just at night either, the mornings, evenings, even most of the mid-days, I was cold, miserable, and wrapped in the same four or five layers of what warm clothes I bought that month. It wasn’t until late January when my friend came over and showed me my air conditioner had a heater mode that I started thinking positively. Before that, I worried and wondered every day how people can live in these conditions! It was also in January on a chance visit to Uniqlo that I discovered Japanese long-johns. These thin, warm pants and shirts provided me a desperately needed extra layer of warmth that helped me go outside, and stay out later, be more active and social, and all around start loving life again. Of course there were other factors; my friend Brian would drive me with him to Kiyomori Taiko practice, and I bought an electric heater and a kotatsu. I also took a trip to Hokkaido where I learned to snowboard, but that played more of a factor the next year.
My second winter started out completely different. I lived in Kure City. I knew exactly when it would start to get cold and I had my finger ready on the danbou heater button. I also bought clothes and a board for snowboarding so I was actually looking forward to the coming of winter! I was also jogging every night, by then, so the cooler air of fall was a welcome prelude to cold winter nights. Also, if you’ve followed my previous articles, this winter came just after the formation of Kure City’s touch rugby team. With all these things keeping me moving and enjoying my free time, winter quickly went from my worst, to my favorite season! I still needed to wrap myself in a hundred layers before going outside usually, but I happily put those layers on just to peel them off as I exercised.
Last winter was my third, and my first living in Hiroshima City. Surprisingly, it was both better, and worse, in many different ways. My new job here at the International Center meant I was warmer at work, but working weekends meant missing out on half the snowboarding trips I took my second year. We have a lot of fun events in the winter like our upcoming snow-experience in Kita-Hiroshima, as well as the exchange party every December. On the down side, my new neighborhood doesn’t have a track nearby like on Kure, so I stopped jogging, although that is probably just an excuse for being lazy. Lastly, I went home to the desert for Christmas. It was great to go outside again wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but when I came back to Hiroshima for New Years, I got the flu for the first time in my life!
This year, I feel like a winter warrior. I have adjusted my schedule and stayed in Hiroshima. No running away from the cold this year! I have sweaters, jackets, coats, and thermal clothes. I am taking multi-vitamins, working out at home, snowboarding every weekend, and next month my friends and I travel to Nagano for a snowboarding trip! I can’t stress enough how much Japan has helped me learn to love winter. But more importantly, Hiroshima has given me something more, the ability to see the bright side of something I misunderstood for so long.