Heavy Snow in Kyoto
A Touch of Snow -- Ootsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1/320 sec, f/4.5, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
A Touch of Snow

Having grown up in Ohio – land of arctic winters and steam-bath summers – I learned to enjoy the change of seasons. I missed them when I lived in California, but Kyoto is better, with glorious springs and autumns. Kyoto's winter is short on snow and thus is fairly drab, so I'm excited whenever the forecast has any chance of snow in it. Sadly, nothing usually comes of it, so any flakes that do materialize are cause for enjoyment. I love snow so long as I don't have to drive in it, so I'm always wishing for more.

“Hurry Up With the Camera” “I want to play ” -- Ootsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 45 mm — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
“Hurry Up With the Camera”
“I want to play

Yesterday mid-morning it started snowing a bit, and by 11am we had a nice light dusting. But it kept snowing and snowing and snowing, and with the temperature just below freezing, it was the kind of snow that came down in big gobs and stuck to anything it touched.

Winter Wonderland -- Ootsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1/200 sec, f/6.3, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Winter Wonderland

Unfortunately, I didn't get to enjoy this snow because I did have to drive. Anthony had a play-date with Zak's son, Gen, and with only a light dusting on the ground at 11am, I decided to make the 20-minute drive to Otsu. The bit of snow was pretty, but the drive was entirely uneventful until we came out of the mile-long tunnel under the mountains separating Kyoto from Otsu, into much more snow. The main road was sill okay, but we had to take the first exit after coming out of the tunnel, and the exit was decidedly not okay. I knew it would be iffy, so I told Anthony to be quiet so I could concentrate, and I took it very carefully.

The next car that took the exit, perhaps 10 seconds behind me, wasn't so careful, and I could watch in my rearview as the driver lost control and the car just slowly drifted away from the center toward the side, stopping abruptly when it smashed head-on into the leading edge of a guard rail. The whole front-end and hood positively exploded on impact.

I carefully stopped the car where I thought it would be safe, and ran back to make sure the driver was okay. I noticed with disgust that three cars that came on the scene right after simply tiptoed around the wreck and went on their way. Anyway, the lady was fine, and had a cell phone, so I returned to Anthony and my car, and proceeded down the long exit.

The exit ends with a tight curve that is both steeply banked side-to-side and up-and-down as it drops traffic down to the surface streets below. When I got there, I found it to be pure ice, with two cars stopped because they couldn't navigate it without sliding into things. The entire exit was covered with this ice, but it only really became a problem at this point when the road was so steeply sloped.

Exceedingly Slippery -- Ootsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm — 1/350 sec, f/8, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Exceedingly Slippery

Over the next several hours, I tried to move the car in small increments, sometimes able to stop sliding into something only by jamming the car into reverse and gunning it. It was a very unfun time. Even some cars with snow chains slid uncontrollably.

At one point about 100 yards from where I first stopped, I was able to put the car into a spot where it was safe from people sliding into it, and I let Anthony out to play in the snow. The picture of him above was taken just when he got out, after having spent the last hour and a half in a very tense atmosphere. We had a snowball fight, which helped the mood considerably.

Sweeping the Walk -- Ootsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 38 mm — 1/1250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Sweeping the Walk

I eventually tried to move it again, and got another 100 yards until I got stuck on a slight hill going up. I just couldn't get any traction. I could go backwards, and I could slide sideways, but I couldn't go up. It was pathetic. I know I didn't have snow tires, but it's a Mercedes and I expected better stock tires. Pathetic.

After another hour or so – and much to Anthony's joy – I finally decided to abandon the car and walk the rest of the way to Zak's house. I was very worried that someone trying to go up the hill would lose control and slide into my car, but I couldn't really move it, so there was nothing I could do.

Abandoned at the Side of the Road -- Ootsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 18 mm — 1/1000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Abandoned at the Side of the Road

So, we walked, holding hands tightly to keep from slipping on the icy slopes. Occasionally, I'd stop to take a picture. The snow was still coming down in huge clumps, so the FotoSharp camera raincoat that I always keep scrunched up in my bag came in very handy: I couldn't have used the camera without it.

Roadside Tree -- Ootsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Roadside Tree

Once we got off the side of the mountain into the main city, it was no less icy, but easier to navigate without the slopes.

Almost to Gen's House -- Ootsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 38 mm — 1/320 sec, f/4.5, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Almost to Gen's House
The Otsu Mary Disappears into the Snow -- Ootsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm — 1/160 sec, f/7.1, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
The Otsu Mary Disappears into the Snow

When we finally arrived at Zak's place four hours late, we were wet, tired, and wet. We made a horrible mess of his place in short order — Sorry Zak and Maki!

Pretty Patterns in the Snow -- Ootsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1/250 sec, f/6.3, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Pretty Patterns in the Snow

I felt unsettled, so after a few hours I headed back to check on the car. Halfway there, I found a stack of bags of salt by the side of the road, so I carried one (25kg – 55 pounds!) up the rest of the way to my car. It didn't help, and I just could not get the car to move forward. It was both pathetic and strange at the same time, since I felt almost as if I had the parking brake on, or something. The car should have been able to navigate the hill. To be clear, though, I didn't have the parking brake on. I dunno what the problem was. I returned to Zak's.

As it started to get dark, the lighting became beautiful in a very odd way, with almost everything taking on a surreal grayscale, as if I were in an old movie. Yet, there were occasionally punches of color, such as the line of brake lights in the shot below.

Almost Monochrome -- Ootsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 75 mm — 1/40 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Almost Monochrome

The side of the mountain was beautiful, with different varieties of tree holding the snow with differing patterns.

Street Light -- Ootsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120 mm — 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Street Light

The one bit of color in the mountain-side shot above is a street light on the road I was on earlier, just after it comes out of the tunnel. By this time, it had been closed to all but those with chains or snow tires.

Around six in the evening, Anthony and I headed home via train and subway, where Fumie mercifully had a hot bath waiting.

Today was sunny and warm (in the mid 40s, Fahrenheit), so most of the snow melted away. Around 3pm, I made the trip back to get the car, and drove it home.


All 4 comments so far, oldest first...

Whew! What a relief that it ended well. We’re having a blizzard of sorts in Ohio right now. Beautiful to look at while curled up by the fire. Glad we don’t have to do anythi ng more than go out and feed the birds. (Before they break the door down) Glad you go home O.K.

— comment by Grandma Friedl on February 11th, 2008 at 1:48am JST (9 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Great snow shots… loved the one of anthony in the yellow jacket.

— comment by Jon on February 11th, 2008 at 10:09am JST (9 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Well it’s beautiful, I dream to see Kinkakuji covered in snow sometime.
However, I went for a walk at 6pm at it was 23c outside…
Your photos reminded me not to take it for granted.

According to the forecast, we may get some more snow in the next few days, so you can keep an eye on Kinkakuji via their live cam (updated every five minutes). —Jeffrey

— comment by Michael Menichetti on February 11th, 2008 at 7:53pm JST (9 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

In person… I want to see it in person with snow… I have only been to Kinkakuji in the fall during Momiji time… For now I guess the web cam will have to do…

Thanks!

Well, until you get here, this will perhaps have to do, from the aforementioned webcam this morning… —Jeffrey

— comment by Michael Menichetti on February 12th, 2008 at 1:00pm JST (9 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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