Yes, it does exist. And I had forgotten all about it.
Three things you should know about winter in Niigata City:
• the snow here is wet and clumps easily, good for making snowballs
• nobody shovels the sidewalk but when they do shovel, they don't shovel the corner so you walk on solid groud for about 10 seconds and then you end up on treacherous terrain when you want to cross the street. This city, like many in Japan, is filled with the elderly. Why don't they rise up and demand that the city (and its people) shovel the sidewalks?
• you can see lots of rice fields covered in snow
One more point -- and it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with winter. I am really paranoid about getting hit by a car. Because (1) traffic moves in the opposite direction here and (2) there are no sidealks on the side streets. In Dance, Dance, Dance, one of the characters, who happens to be an ex-pat living in Japan, gets hit by a car and dies because he's used to looking left first instead of looking right. That's the word that constantly appears in neon in my mind's eye when I am walking on the street -- RIGHT! That, and Why don't they shovel?
See? No sidewalk.
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