Snowy Tokyo – Chinzanso Garden
On Saturday Tokyo had an amazing amount of snow. The most in 45 years, just a little short of the March 1969 record. It started snowing in the early hours of the morning and it was still pouring down by the time I went to bed around midnight. Neighboring Chiba Prefecture had even more snow, the most ever since recordings started in 1966, which complicated things for the national airport, Narita. Further up the coast Sendai City also broke a new record. The Kanto region alone saw 60 800 households experience power cuts due to downed power lines. Wise from a similar snowfall in January last year people in central Tokyo seemed to have learned their lesson and I saw many more people with proper snow shovels out in the streets, as well as many more cars properly equipped with snow chains. At night the streets were eerily quiet as most people stayed indoors and almost no cars were out. During a break in the snowing at around nine I went out for a walk and I don’t think I have ever seen such a quiet Tokyo, no one outside, no cars, no winds.
I wanted to make the most of the snow so in the afternoon I visited the Chinzano Hotel (椿山荘). The subways were running on schedule so I had no problems moving around the city. The Chinzanso hotel is near JR Mejiro station and is famous for its beautiful classic Japanese garden which is full of hidden little tea houses, pagodas, statues and even a shrine. I have visited many times before but this was my first chance to see it covered in snow. It wasn’t easy to take photos in the strong winds and snowfall! Even though the hotel is in the middle of Tokyo I couldn’t hear or see anything outside of the garden. It was quite an experience! I also go to see the early plum flower blossoms covered in snow, as well as the camellia flowers that have already started blooming, another first for me!
Speaking of the Chinzanso hotel, a few years ago when I visited the Chinzanso I was invited to see a “dry run” tea ceremony, which made for some interesting photos.