Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Hatsuyuki in Kyoto

 On 10 December 2012, Kyoto city saw its first snow of the season, or hatsuyuki (初雪).

I was late for class that morning and was hurriedly putting on my shoes outside my room when I saw the white specks being blown my way.  My first thoughts were, "Had someone just given his or her futon a good beating outside? That was alot of dust!"

As I looked closer, I saw the white stuff turn to water as they touched the ground. And then I realised. A little slow I had to admit but then again, it was my first encounter with snow in Japan.I had experienced snow in Korea but it was heavy snow then, not the same as what I saw that day outside my mansion so it took me a while before realisation struck.

Unfortunately, I was in a hurry and I didn't have my camera with me. With my mobile phone, I snapped a quick photo outside Hirano Shrine which was along the way before I made a dash for school.
I was 5 minutes late for the class.   It was the sensei who was very particular about punctuality but that morning, he said he would forgive me on account of the weather and also since I had been a good student up till then.  It is always helpful to own a good track record, ahem.
After class, my Facebook newsfeed was full of people giving their account of the snow and uploading the photos they had taken. I wished I had taken better photos. In my inbox, I received messages from neighbours on whether it would be timely to check out Kinkakuji, the Golden Temple that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also well-known for the winter image of its snow-capped roof.  In the news, as expected, hatsuyuki in Kyoto was reported with accompanying images of Kinkakuji in the background and interviews of tourists who were there.
However, it was not time yet to visit Kinkakuji for its beautiful winter scene because the snow did not accumulate. Melting was quick.
As I was looking through the photos taken by school mates of the snowing scene that day, I think the best pictures of the snow were those taken by my neighbour. And with his permission, I am happy to share the photos on this blog.

School grounds. Photo credit: Mr Riyadh Ahadi.
School grounds. Photo credit: Mr Riyadh Ahadi.
On 24 December, it snowed again in Kyoto, slightly after noon. Just as I was getting ready to get out of the study room to take photos with my camera, it stopped.

There was no White Christmas afterall.

Merry Christmas everyone!


  1. I enjoyed reading your blog about life in Kyoto! All the best to you during the remainder of you stay. :)

    1. Hi Herspective, thank you for your comments! I am sorry at this late reply as I started to get really busy with the move back home. I still have lots to write about the remainder of my stay in Kyoto and should get down to it very soon! Hope you will continue to look out for the new posts :)

  2. I looked for an email address for you, and couldn't find one on your site. So I thought I'd 'comment / question here to see if you could help.

    I'm going to Kyoto in a few weeks and have been trying to find information about entering Onsen or Sento with a tattoo. The consensus seems to be that it's going to be difficult! :( The thing is, I love hot springs, and I really don't want to miss out! The compromise seems to be a private bath...

    I don't know anything about Kyoto, and googling for Onsen in the area just leaves me scratching my head. Most sites are in Japanese, none mention tattoos, agh! Given that you're a 'local' I thought I might ask...

    Can you recommend a good private onsen in Kyoto, that is beautiful / traditional or open-air?

    Any info, ideas or advice would be gratefully received.


    My email is:johngmansell@gmail.com