After a surprising two weeks of wet, heavy snow, spring has finally sprung in Toyokoro.
Over the past two weeks, we’ve had close to 150 centimetres of snow in the region.
Schools had to close, and trees were breaking, blocking roads.
One morning I woke up to a phone line lying across my parking lot making it impossible for me to drive. It’s shocking to hear that people here still think this is a “mild” winter. It really makes me dread the idea of a heavy winter, especially since I see fishermen standing in the Tokachi River, which runs through Toyokoro, all year round.
Many people took advantage of the beautiful snow by going snowboarding, skiing and snowshoeing.
I, for one, went to one of the best snowboarding mountains in the world, Niseko.
It is situated on the west coast which gets much more snow than the east, making it a winter wonderland.
Before I left, I talked to several people about my plans, and the only comments they made were “powder heaven” and “many Australians.” Both are very true.
While there are still a lot of locals, many shops are run by foreigners, and most Japanese people speak English.
But now, snow is melting, night and day in the sunshine region of Tokachi.
The end of March, and the end of the fiscal year are quickly approaching and I will find myself with many new coworkers in April.
Since the coworkers who are leaving only find out about a week before, I will not know who’s leaving until I return to the schools in April.
However, I will see the change at the Board of Education as I wait out the spring break in that office.
This is one part of the Japanese working environments that I have a hard time getting used to.
Teachers spend an average of four years in schools, being able to leave earlier if they request a transfer, or being allowed to stay longer under certain circumstances.
Regardless, it is always hard to say good-bye (or not) to people whom you’ve worked alongside for two years, with the chance of never seeing them again.
Japanese proverb kishi kaisei – wake from death and return to life.
Anna Marshall is in Summerland’s sister city of Toyokoro, Japan as the assistant English teacher.