Before we begin this little journey through a Kyoto winter wonderland, I should start with the disclaimer that I grew up in sunny southern California. I put on a scarf whenever the temp goes under 70 degrees Fahrenheit. When I stayed at dorms in Harvard University at Boston one summer during high school, I asked what the underground tunnels were for, and when they said it was for the snow, I replied, “Oh HELL no.” I did not apply to a single college on the East Coast. I don’t hate snow, though. I have fond childhood memories of our family driving to Big Bear or Palm Springs in the winter time for some toboggan sledding and snowman building. That’s the thing, though, I always drive to snow. I’ve never lived in it. Not long enough to hate it anyways. So you’ll have to forgive my delight when a sunny blue-skied Kyoto morning suddenly turned into a full on snowstorm.
I love the weather in Southern California, and here, we really only have two seasons—-summer and not summer. We spend plenty a Christmas day by sparkling outdoor pools or picnicking at the beach. However, I’ve enjoyed the beauty of seasons in other places, but none have enchanted me more than the way the city of Kyoto wears them. I daresay it’s the only place that may tempt me away from Christmas by the pool.
The sudden snowstorm we encountered was perfect timing. We had already been around and about Kyoto for a few days, and the snowstorm transformed it into a whole new city for us to explore.
Like I said, I’ve never lived in snow long enough to hate it, so when I see inches of snow fall suddenly within a few hours, all I could do was take pictures of everything, amazed to see even the simplest things covered in snow, such as these sad cars, hapless abandoned bike, and oh, the Buddhist temple down the street.
I tried to imagine what it would be like to trudge through all this snow to and from work every day, but it was hard to feel the reality of that when I was filled too much with delight over the sudden white Christmas I got to experience there.
Instead of frowning at pathways covered in snow, I was whipping out my camera and stomping through the covered paths with zest.
In fact, travel on the train became double the fun. It was like we were on a second trip to another Kyoto.
The view from our bedroom windows in our AirBnB renovated machiya-like home was literally a work of art.
I have a dream of experiencing all of Kyoto’s seasons, but I definitely wouldn’t mind another gorgeous Kyoto snow-in. Best time to whip out a steamy cup of hot matcha latte.
Although, one last important note about Christmas in Japan is worth mentioning. Apparently, Christmas is a date night sort of holiday in Japan, where you spend it with a romantically loved one, not all of your loved ones. I’m trying my best not to be offended by their changing Christmas into yet another Valentine’s Day (they’ve got like three or four of them there already), but Christmas is my favorite holiday–and you just don’t mess with Christmas!
Last up, finishing Japan travels with a experience at a late night McDonald’s back in Tokyo.