Tokyo-to, Ho!

A torii (shrine gate) across from the park

A torii (shrine gate) across from the park

After having finished the exasperatingly lengthy Wicked series over the course of two or three years (interspersed with plenty of other more worthwhile reads, of course), I needed something to fulfill my craving for a fictional work with more realistic setting and less munchkins and tired tropes of simple good versus evil.

Interestingly, if not serendipitously, I rediscovered a pdf uploaded on my Kindle more than a year ago, The Neuromancer, by William Golding. Set in futuristic Tokyo – which, even during its ancient times as the city of Edo, was known as the “floating world” of sumos, samurais, and salacious back-alley attractions – the Blade Runner/Fifth Element plot thrusts the reader into the life of a by-the-seat-of-his-pants dealer in unending, drug-fueled nights of the capital of the Rising Sun.

I myself will be Tokyo-bound soon, with a far less lascivious agenda in mind. The company-related trip will give me a chance perhaps to pick up some postcards and trinkets to send back to the States, seeing as how Koriyama does not offer much in the way of the touristy and tacky.

One of the few sidewalks cleared in Koriyama's Kaiseizan Park

One of the few sidewalks cleared in Koriyama’s Kaiseizan Park

I can only hope Yuki Onna (雪女; a ghostly female equivalent of the West’s Jack Frost) has finished her two-week tour of the East coast. According to Japan Times, 19 people died in snow-related incidents since the storm began.

Unaccustomed to such severe weather, the city of Koriyama itself doesn’t seem to have any snow plows – only a few backhoes assumedly lent out by construction companies and the good will of the shovel-ready citizens. The shelves of the majority of 7-11 and Family Mart convenience stores in the vicinity have been nearly emptied due to traveling restrictions for both those walking or driving.

Due to the heavy snowfall Saturday, I made my way to Fukushima City once again by the astoundingly fast and blessedly toasty (I thank the Japanese for having the good sense of heated seats, both for train benches and toilets) Shinkansen, or bullet train. Cars buried and buses out of commission, most students arrived on foot through unplowed, slippery streets.

Sakura Street, the main road of downtown Koriyama

Sakura Street, the main road of downtown Koriyama. Sakura means “cherry blossom”

On Sunday, a coworker and I had our own misadventure, as we made a perilous and halting six-hour drive (eight for her, the poor soul) to the company’s mall location, normally only a 15-20—minute drive from downtown Koriyama. On a stretch just before the mall entrance, her car swerved to the left, entrenching itself into an icy embankment. Instantly, six or seven eager passersby, shovels in hand, came to the rescue.

While New Orleans or Australia has never looked better, I’m still taken aback a bit by the genuine kindness of the people here. Only last night, an interesting scene played out outside my apartment window as several men rescued a few of the stray cats that seem to live under the porch of a small, abandoned brown-and-white Sukiya-zukuri villa (traditional Japanese-style housing).

My own apartment complex is still, after three days, without hot water, and after several boiled-snow-water rinses, I’m looking forward to a nice warm shower when I get to my hotel in Tokyo.

An icy waterfall opposite Koriyama train station

An icy waterfall opposite Koriyama train station


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