This was our first snow day in Japan. Snow was not part of our itinerary. We cancelled all major travel for that day, shopped at the local grocery and the 100-yen store and then went home and baked. I made lemon tarts and Dave made homemade bread. Jeff cooked us a delicious dinner. With the heaters running we were nice and warm and it was beautiful to look outside.
These pictures are taken at Karen and Jeff's house. You can see the neighboring houses from their upstairs window and the depth of the snow on the balcony railing (I think it was about six inches).
Jeff and Dave drove to the hardware store to find a shovel, since it is customary for each homeowner to clear his own section of the street. Not having brought a snow shovel with them from the U.S., they had previously used a dustpan... a slow and laborious chore. Jeff decided that with this amount of snow it was time to buy a real shovel.
In the meantime, kids on their way to school were outside laughing and throwing snowballs at each other. We could see red and yellow umbrellas passing above the snow-covered wall. A snowman appeared at the end of the street (and lasted until after we returned from Hiroshima).
Take a look at the lower right-hand photo. The string of bells hanging down from the corner of the roof is the rain spout. This is the standard design for rainspouts in Japan.
The bottom of this photo shows the top of the clothes line... actually it's an assembly of poles. Karen has a washing machine, but no dryer, so all clothes hang outside in the sun to dry... when there is sun. Sometimes the clothes come back into the house at night frozen and are hung on hooks and hangers near the electric heaters to defrost and dry.
Like in Europe, homes all over Japan have clothes hanging outside. In this case, hangers can be used on the poles and the poles are removable so you can stick the pole through a leg of a pair of jeans and place it back onto the frame (horizontally) to hang the jeans. There is also a revolving plastic assembly with multiple clothespins hanging from it for smaller items like socks and underwear. It has a hanger at the top, so it's portable (can be taken inside to use near the electric heater). Since space is at a premium in small Japanese homes, there are lots of ingenious space-saving tools like this in the household section of the stores.
The evening of our snow day, we drank warm tea, wrapped ourselves in blankets, and watched a Christmas movie together before going to bed.