Signs of Spring

Just as there are red flags to warn Aomori of winter coming in November, late March is full of burgeoning signs of spring’s approach. Even though the snow hasn’t completely melted (that usually doesn’t happen until late April), days are getting warmer, and a keen eye can pick out the buds on the cherry blossom trees beginning to fatten up a bit.

Like I mentioned in my last post, teachers are notified of transfers in late March. In many cases, their new school is far enough away that it precipitates a move of residence. And that means that spring is basically the Season of the Moving Truck, especially in neighborhoods like mine, where the housing is primarily for government workers.

The first of about four moving trucks that were around my block this weekend.
The first of about four moving trucks that were around my block this weekend.

Spring approaching also sees a total reversal of the snow shoveling that had resulted in the accumulation of gigantic mountains on basically every available surface. As soon as the sun provides a bit of warmth, everybody starts spreading the snow out in an attempt to get it to melt just a bit faster. And since snow shovels aren’t used so much anymore, they end up having other practical uses…

And since people are once again out and about on their bikes (Rejoice! Mobility!!), falling into open gutters becomes a real danger.
And since people are once again out and about on their bikes (Rejoice! Mobility!!), falling into open gutters becomes a danger. Enter the snow shovel markers.

But the sign of spring that is simultaneously the best and worst in my book is the massive amounts of food that appears at work. In Japan, it’s traditional to provide your office with お土産 (omiyage, souvenirs) when you return from a trip. Sort of like saying, “Sorry you couldn’t come along, but here’s something for you to enjoy, too.” A similar practice occurs when you change jobs; it either thanks your previous coworkers for their hard work or thanks your new ones for their (assumed) future cooperation. With lots of teachers leaving and arriving at Aomori High School this year, that’s resulted in a mountain of cakes and cookies to satisfy all of our snacking needs.

Omiyage mountain. Excuse the poor quality...taking a picture from any closer would have alerted my coworkers to what I was doing. And they think I'm weird enough already.
Omiyage mountain. There are probably six or seven more boxes that can’t be seen. Excuse the poor quality…taking a picture from any closer would have alerted my coworkers to what I was doing. And they think I’m weird enough already.

I used to sit right beside the food table, and that proved to be pretty disastrous. My willpower can be extremely resilient at times…but not when it comes to food. Thankfully, I’ve moved desks across the room, so at least now I have to walk an extra fifteen feet to get food. Not that it’s done me much good…it’s just before 9:00 a.m., and I’ve already broken twice. Such is the danger of spring in Japan.

Edit: And another teacher just personally dropped off another snack. A horrible thing,  I tell you. Just terrible.

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