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Today’s Special Guest: Winter


Conveniently scheduled for a national holiday so hundreds of thousands of commuters wouldn’t be inconvenienced by trains that occasionally had to pause while snow and/or ice and/or tree limbs could be cleared from the tracks, this year’s 24 hours of winter did not disappoint!

Snow bucketed down from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. as the special guest season of the day posed for photos, played pranks on delivery trucks without snow tires, and gave everybody new stories to tell later while quaffing fortifying quantities of beer.

This year, I started at the Meiji Shrine, where tree limbs were cracking off and falling with video-game-like regularity, perilously close to Mario and Luigi as they ogled the maidens in their coming-of-age kimonos.

Woo-woo Time Machine Moment: Doesn’t this kinda look like a wintertime woodblock print from the Edo Era?
Under the eaves of the inner courtyard
Under the eaves of the inner courtyard
Shelter from the storm
First Calligraphy of the New Year. After midnight on New Years Eve, the “first” of everything is taken as a portent for the year to come. First shrine visit. First lucky fortune. First water from the well. First…um, let’s draw the curtain there, shall we?
The Iris Garden at the Meiji Shrine is a madhouse in June, but yesterday I only saw two other people enjoying it in all its snowy splendor.
The path around the iris pond
This grand torii gate at the entrance was closed shortly after I went in, because tree limbs were snapping off right and left, crashing down perilously close to shrine visitors and smashing the new year’s ice sculptures to smithereens.

Next stop, Nakameguro, to see what the cherry trees look like in the nude.

The cherry tree-lined canal in Nakamuguro. In three months, it’ll look like this.

Finally, one of the most gorgeous spots in Tokyo, in any season. The Rikugi-en garden.

Japanese gardens are even beautiful in black and white, aren’t they?
My favorite bridge.
My favorite bridge.

If you’d like to visit the Meiji Shrine or Rikugi-en Garden the next time you’re in Tokyo, maps are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

When Detective Kenji Nakamura’s phone rings with the news that his mother’s death wasn’t an accident, his life begins to unravel…read more

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

15 thoughts on “Today’s Special Guest: Winter Leave a comment

  1. wow nice photos Jonelle! I’d like to take some photos as well but I had to finish my 3DCG project… U_U

    • Wah, accursed deadlines! ( ; _ ; ) But I want to see your project when it’s done! (And at least you were inside where it was dry. I got so wet that I had to apologize at a restaurant for paying with limp, soggy money!)

  2. What Lisa said. Really beautiful images. One of them in particular reminded me to tell you that Portland’s Japanese Garden will be exhibiting 50 or so prints by Toko Shinoda, whose work I first encountered in your house. That one image inspired a series of 4 (so far) fiber arts pieces, and I’m not done yet! I’m really jazzed to see the exhibit.

  3. Doesn’t this kinda look like a wintertime woodblock print from the Edo Era?

    YES! I was just thinking that. Especially when I saw pictures of girls out in furisode (?) on Coming of Age day, struggling against the snow in their umbrellas. I thought wow, it does look like a woodblock print from the Edo era! Thank you so much for posting these.

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