â€œItâ€™s a winter wonderland,â€ as one of my students said on the first snow day of the year. It may be cold, but it really is beautiful outside! There are so many things we can do in the winter that we canâ€™t do any other time of year. This year Iâ€™m trying to explore all winter has to offer and actually enjoy the season.
As a second year ALT from California, my life in Japan this winter is a lot easier than it was last year. Last year was my first time ever living in snow, so much of my winter was spent trying to get warm and make it through until spring. I often found myself wanting to just stay home and watch movies or something under my warm kotatsu. Why would I go outside in the cold when I could stay inside next to my heater? That worked for me last year, but as a very social, active person I am much happier if Iâ€™m out doing something. Now that I have all my winter clothes, heaters, have learned how to drive in the snow, etc., Iâ€™m able to get out more and not stress out about the winter cold as much.
Iâ€™ve found that there are actually a lot of winter activities I really enjoy. I decided that since I live so close to the slopes I really want to learn how to snowboard. Iâ€™ve had fun ice skating in an outdoor rink in my area and then going to a cafÃ© to warm up with a hot matcha latte. Even just going out and making snowmen and having snowball fights with my students during breaks is great. Itâ€™s really refreshing to go out and get some air even if it is super cold.
Are you also looking to get out and stay active this winter? If so you should come on the Hyogo AJET Ski/Snowboard trip on February 16th in Tajima! All are welcome to sign up even if youâ€™ve never snowboarded or skied before! There are also many other events and festivals happening all over Hyogo and the rest of Japan. No matter what youâ€™re interested in, I encourage you to get out and enjoy the winter wonderland while itâ€™s here!
Message from the Editor
Vegetable soup of deliciousness and hot sauce â€“ what’s been powering me through the cold recently. I do love it when you can just buy a giant hakusai, sundry mushrooms, carrots and whatever else takes your fancy, bung them in a pot and survive off it for a week. The Asian soup base I’d spotted a while back at Gyomu (supermarket) has made this an even tastier endeavour than it was before Christmas and the sriracha sauce purchased whilst in the States makes it all positively sublime as far as I’m concerned. (The later attempt with death sauce mixed in to the actual soup to save time, since I’m THAT lazy, was a no-go. Spiciness good, but the flavour just wasn’t up to par. This does of course make sense since the sriracha is Thai, but there you go. I need to use up the death sauce to start attempting to free up space in my fridge. I’m not sure that anyone really needs 4 types of hot sauce on the go at one time ><).
Getting back from work, heating up some soup, a healthy dollop of the hot sauce on top and off to hide under the kotatsu is basically my weekday life at the moment. If I actually want to do anything of an evening, I pretty much have to leave my house as soon as I get there, the lure of the kotatsu is too strong otherwise. This is why I spend 2 hours drinking coffee at Mister Donuts every Wednesday before my Japanese class. Guess it works for the study time too â€“ a win-win situation. Now if only I could do the same with the gym on other days…
Nope, the kotatsu’s more appealing.
On the plus side though, wanting to leave your house as little as possible means that I’ve actually been pretty good at avoiding combinis as per Ulu’s article last month. Going to the supermarket and stocking up on the aforementioned vegetables, pasta, tins of things and the occasional block of tofu has probably saved me a lot of money, and possibly fingers as I don’t have to cycle around in the snow quite so much. If my kitchen wasn’t as cold as a polar bear’s nose I might even be happy to spend more of my time cooking. Alas, currently at least, cut vegetables and put in pot it about all I’m prepared to put up with.
Well enough rambling about food and the cold (yep, been in Japan that long) and what do we have in the Times for you this month? Lots and lots and lots! Fancy appreciating the fact that it’s cold and heading out for some winter sports? Charlotte gives you the low down on the best places to go in Hyogo. Want to rustle up a winter treat in the kitchen (it’s a quick one, so even I’m going to give this a go)? Pick up some oysters and take note of Lauren’s fantastic recipe. (And I start with mentions of the weather and food â€“ oh dear ><). What else, what else? Successful implementation of ideas from the Skills Development Conference, volunteering at animal shelters, a new corner on the wonders of mochi, and more!
Have a good month all!