About 5cm or so of flakes...


This morning we awoke to find our world covered in soft, cold, white stuff.


The first person to create artificial snowflakes, and figure out why snowflakes grow into the unique shapes that they do, was a Japanese physicist by the name of Ukichiro Nakaya back in the 1930s. You see, Nakaya had a degree in physics, but the only job he could land was at the University of Hokkaido in Japan's far north which did not have any facilities for nuclear research experiments. Hokkaido does have an abundance of snowflakes however! Nakaya studied the crystalline structures using a microscope and camera and worked out how and why they form as they do. For more, check out this beautiful book on the topic: "The Snowflake, Winter's Secret Beauty" by Kenneth Libbrecht with photos by Patricia Rasmussen.

A snowflake photograph by Nakaya

Momo is not keen on snow. She came out for a look, but wouldn't touch it. After staring at it for a while from her cushion on the patio bench, she asked to go back inside the house to her cage with its heated bed. Later, however, the call of nature was too strong, so she had me take her for her morning walk even in the ice and snow.


Knowing this wouldn't last, I decided to take some pictures. I visited our local Shinto shrine - Tsubaki Shrine (camellia). The tori at the entrance still has its New Year decorations of bamboo and pine branches.

Even though sheltered by massive oaks and Japanese cedars, the buildings were coated with snow.

A garden of winter vegetables with a row of ume trees behind it.

A field of daikon - large radishes. Daikon is used extensively in Japanese cooking. Speaking of which, Kimie is cooking "oden" tonight - a kelp based soup with sliced daikon, lotus root, various fish cakes, konnyaku (a gelatinous food made from konjac roots), eggs, and other goodies. There are variations across Japan and of course depending on what you have on hand. Just the thing on a cold winter's night!

Some flakes trivia: 1) "Films made prior to [It's A Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart] used cornflakes painted white for the falling snow effect. Because the cornflakes were so loud [when tread upon], dialogue had to be dubbed in later. Frank Capra wanted to record the sound live, so a new snow effect was developed using foamite (a fire-fighting chemical) and soap and water. This mixture was then pumped at high pressure through a wind machine to create the silent, falling snow. 6000 gallons of the new snow were used in the film. The RKO Effects Department received a Class III Scientific or Technical Award from the Motion Picture Academy for the development of the new film snow." (IMDb.com)


Lrong said...

Wooh, snow... thank god it did not snow here although there was a sheet of ice on our pond this morning... think my missus is cooking some kind of oden for dinner tonight as well...

nzm said...

That's so pretty! There's something about snow that makes the ordinary into something special.

As you can see on our blog, we had our fair share of snow over Christmas in Germany. If anyone mentions global warming to me, I'll hit them over the head with my snow shovel! ;.)

Don Snabulus said...

That was just the right kind of snow...enough to be beautiful, but not too much and then a brilliant blue sky to complete the effect.

Thanks for the wonderful pictures.

Pandabonium said...

Lrong - can you see the fish under the ice?

NZM - don't confuse meteorology with climatology. A warming earth actually puts more moisture into the atmosphere resulting in more rain and snow, not less.
(Hey, what are doing with that shovel?!)

Don - thank you. Yes, this is snow on my terms.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

What lovely photos, thanks for sharing. Down here in Oz-land we've had to contend with floods in many areas, now a slow-moving flood towards my little hometown beside the Murray River.
By the way a school here in Geelong was bought by a Mr Katsumata and their new arts centre is named after him. He is a famous educator perhaps?

Pandabonium said...

Bula! Wendy. The floods have been terrible. One of the English teachers that Kimie works with is from Brisbane, so we've followed the news about it with concern.

We don't know about Yoshimaro Katsumata, but from searching the web we found he evidently received an award from the Australian Government after his passing. It also appears his family has a private school in Japan possibly run by his son of the same name.

Honorary Member Order of Australia:
"Mr Yoshimaro KATSUMATA, Deceased (Award wef 29 July 2009) Late of Gotemba, Japan For service to education, particularly his contribution to Kardinia International College and the student exchange program between Japan and Australia."

Doug M said...

Oh, a nice photo there. Or rather, "photos". I don't get to enjoy snow too often myself, and certain not when I visit Japan, so this was a treat. :)

Love the shrine photos too!

Pandabonium said...

Doug M - thanks for visiting and for the kind words.

I just bookmarked your site. It looks interesting.

HappySurfer said...

We don't get snow here, so these pictures are a treat. Thanks for sharing them, PandaB.