Mar 5, 2013

Enjoying cold winter in Japan

I was in Yamagata city on 23 February for a board meeting of Catholic KGs. Yamagata city is within my diocese, Niigata Diocese. To reach Yamagata, I had to take train this time because it was not advisable to drive on snowy and icy road as we have heavy snow fall this winter, more than double that of usual years. There is no motorway connection and I have to climb and pass 2 mountains between Niigata and Yamagata.  Well, it took me more than 5 hours to travel by train,though it was that famous bullet train of Japan which goes over 200km per hour.  I had to travel down to Tokyo and change a train to continue to Yamagata. 

That is one of realities of mission territory such as Japan. Well I have to drive more than 8 hours to reach a parish in northern end of my diocese and it is almost impossible to make on time travel during winter season. A day after my trip to Yamagata, the bullet train between Tokyo and Yamagata got stuck in snow.  A few days ago, another bullet train between Tokyo and Akita which is also in my diocese was derailed by heavy snow. You may imagine that it is not easy to organise any diocesan events in such situation in my diocese.

Well my second diocese, Sapporo in Hokkaido has suffered worse winter this time.  Only a few days ago, there were terrible snow storm in Hokkaido, 8 people were killed including a 53-year-old father who lost his life while protecting his only daughter under him.  They were on their way home from local kids center. 

I was also in Sapporo a few days ago for a priest meeting and surprised to see heavy snow piled up on side walks.  This is my 4th winter as the apostolic administrator of Sapporo and I have never seen such heavy snow there.

Of course, I know the situation in diocese of Irkutsk in East Siberia which is much more harsh than our reality, though. Also cities in Niigata such as Tokamachi has been also suffering from quite heavy snow this winter.

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