Spring in Japan: bouncy temperatures
You can tell when spring is about to start in Japan. The temperature outside starts to ping up and down repeatedly, like Tigger. Real springy.
Japanese late winter weather is seriously unpredictable. It can't decide if it still wants to be winter or not. One day you're shivering in a thick coat, the next day all those layers'll make you sweat.
Surprise, there's an idiom for that!
三寒四温 - sankanshion - '3 cold, 4 warm'. That's winter in Japan all over. 3 colder days followed by 4 warmer days. Followed by 3, 4, 3, 4. Repeat until spring, or maybe until summer if you're sensitive to cold.
The 'first day of spring' is next week, and it's a national holiday. (I guess that's so we can all stand outside and say "hey, it's finally spring, huh" to our neighbours.)
I've covered how strict Japan's seasons are before. When the calendar says it's meant to be spring, the weather snaps to attention. The day summer was forecast to end, we got a typhoon. So from next Monday, it *should* really be spring.
It comes along just a little before the sakura start to bloom. Slicing March right down the middle, like a samurai's blade made of really cold wind.
Unless you're crazy about cherry blossoms, spring is the 2nd-best time to visit Japan. To me, autumn's the best. Warmer days and crunchy leaves. If you can find a tree that's shedding. The lingering warmth tricks all of us, humans and plants alike. So, autumn first, then spring.
On one of my early trips to Japan, I spent almost all of March in Tokyo. I checked the weather forecast, but still had no idea what to pack. Having been (literally) burned by an obscenely hot August last time, my top layer of choice was a trenchcoat.
I nearly froze to death.
That trip was packed full of adventures and new experiences. Yet my most vivid memory is of looking across a road at a screen showing the current temperature. 2 degrees. I was wearing a trenchcoat, and in that moment there were several good reasons to set it on fire.
I near enough threw out my suitcase and bought a whole new warmer wardrobe. And then. Then, on a glorious day, it hit 18 degrees. That weather trolled me good.
So just as the tourists and outdoor drinkers await the sakura, I await the spring. Hopefully it'll bounce into action next week. If not, I'm arranging Bonfire Night about 8 months early.