If you visit the Toyama prefectural website, one of the interesting facts that you will learn about the region is that it has “a low outbreak of fires.” Of course, what this really means is that Toyama is a wet place. Even in the winter.
This year the snow started on December 24th, just in time for a beautiful, white Christmas. I was thrilled. You see, I love the snow. I grew up in Ottawa, where choosing a Halloween costume meant finding something you could wear with a snowsuit and six-foot tall snowbanks are just a part of life in the winter months. I can deal with snow.
However, it took me a while to get used to Toyama’s way of dealing with the snow:
Do you see those things in the middle of the road? Yes, they are sprinklers. Instead of using snowplows or salting and sanding the roads, Toyama has an extensive system of sprinklers that spray warm water on the roads, sidewalks, and parking lots when it starts to snow.
No pedestrian is safe from wet feet, or knees, in some cases. There are so many flaws with this system that I really cannot begin to understand why it exists. Every time I see the sprinklers at work my mind races with questions. I have resigned to calling it a cultural difference and am trying to stop thinking about it. And hey, even if my boots are wet when I get to school, at least in Toyama I don’t have to wait in the hallway while my boot laces thaw enough to change my shoes. One point for Toyama.