December Snow

It has been snowing for 3 days straight in the city of Takayama. According to the Internet, we've received about 85 cm since this time yesterday. And by this time yesterday, teachers were convinced that amount had already fallen. It certainly doesn't seem like we've accumulated nearly 5 feet of snow, but I guess it's possible.

Takayama City actually canceled school today, which is almost unheard of. For most teachers in Takayama, they can't remember a time of school ever being canceled due to snow. (Though, they seem to cancel school pretty often for typhoons.) Yesterday, school was let out early, too.

But! While school is canceled, that doesn't mean it's a day off for the teachers. We still must come to school because it's our job. This morning I cleared more than a foot of snow off of my car, and had to shovel a path in front of my car in order to make it onto the road. One of my neighbors had his car stuck and blocking traffic, too, so I helped push his car out of the ditch. But I made it to school on time. No problem.

At school, all of us teachers went outside, shoveled snow, and knocked snow off of the trees. There was definitely more than 3 feet of snow piled up on the school grounds, so maybe we have accumulated 5 feet overall. After that, we dispersed throughout the neighborhood to check for any "dangers".

Today, I'm at Minami Elementary School, which is located near the center of town near the train station. Because this school is so centrally located, there are no buses. All students walk to school, so when we check for "dangers", we're basically verifying that the routes students take to get to school are safe for the students to travel. I guess I'm not sure what we were actually looking for. Sinkholes? Or downed power lines? The routes I (and another teacher) checked were clear of those dangers. Though, the snow was piled up so much that anyone walking was basically forced into the streets. I figured that was pretty dangerous.

But whatever... Students weren't coming to school today anyhow. As I walked around, I took several photos.

We basically just cover the north-western blocks from the school to the supermarket to the river and back. Plenty of residents were outside shoveling snow, and clearing their cars and driveways. We didn't see any kids, though, which was weird. You'd think they'd be running around playing in the snow. Though, I suppose the streets were pretty dangerous with oncoming traffic.

Shoveling Snow in Takayama

There is one big difference between shoveling snow in the Midwest and in Japan. In the Midwest, you typically shovel snow from your driveway into your yard. However, in Japan, there are no yards. At least, not in the city area. Thankfully, I live near a river. So, when it snows enough to be shoveled, my whole neighborhood just shovels all the snow into the river.

During our neighborhood safety check, plenty of citizens were doing the same.

If you live near a river, you basically fill up one of those sleds with snow, drag it to the river, and chuck in it. And repeat until complete. Sometimes, residents will fill up a pickup truck with snow, and then drive to the river and dump it.

Another method for the more landlocked neighborhoods of Takayama is using the gutters on the sides of the roads. There is enough water running in Takayama, that it never freezes. Some neighborhoods open up the gutters running on the sides of the streets, and shove the snow inside. The running water melts the snow, and carries it away. These neighborhoods are usually tightly packed, so they don't really have a lot of snow to shovel anyway. It's usually just the strip of sidewalk in front of their house.

One other method by the lazy residents of town is shoveling the snow into the street. In a typical winter Takayama day, it snows throughout the night, and warms up a bit during the day. The warmth during the day usually melts whatever snow collected on the roads overnight. So by pushing the snow in the streets, cars will run over it, and the daily warmth will melt and get rid of it. It's still lazy, though.

Anyway... maybe the snow was stop tonight some time, and we'll actually have class tomorrow. Or maybe not.


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