The restaurant owner opened the door and let out a gasp. The world outside had turned white.
We awake to a grey day outside. Snowflakes are dancing into the strong wind, disappearing as they touch a surface.
Breakfast at the hotel has so many choices, local seafood, Japanese and western breakfast staples and even desserts. Unfortunately it is also rather expensive so we only paid for today.
It is a chilly walk to Matsue Station. The aim of today is to travel to Sakaiminato and eat crab. When we arrive at the station we see a camera crew around the gates and messages that the Limited Express Yakumo and the east is cancelled due to snow.
We only need to go as far as Yonago, so the local train should be unaffected. After all, there’s not much snow here.
Without the Yakumo there’s a bit of a wait so we explore the local shopping centre before heading up to the platform. A bright orange KiHa 47 two car diesel pulls up and we board.
It’s a pretty little journey along the coast. However, when we arrive in Yonago we discover that Sakai Line services have been cancelled for the next two days. Damn! That’s a line I’ve yet to catch.
The last Yakumo Express is arriving at the platform and we have to run to catch it back to Matsue.
It’s sunny in Matsue when we arrive. I Google crab restaurants. I’ve promised crab to B. I find one less than a kilometre’s walk away. We set out, following the train line.
It looks perfect, a run down shed. Inside are low tables and plastic crates to sit on. Another couple is finishing off their lunch, the only other customers. Country and Western music blares out from a sound system.
We order one local crab, one cheaper one sourced elsewhere and a pot of name. The friendly elderly owner expertly shows us how to cut the crab and scoop out the flesh. It’s really, really nice and very expensive. But as a seafood treat it’s totally worth it.
It is when we’re finished that the door is opened to discover the blizzard outside. Any sign of blue is gone, replaced by snow. We struggle against the wind and snow, crossing in through the back door of an Aeon shopping centre in order to escape the freezing wind and snow. A local sees us and burst out in laughter at the snow on our jackets and in our hair.
We wander through a supermarket and downmarket department store, remembering when we used to buy supplies, toys and clothes for Alex at places like it. Eventually we muster up the courage to continue walking to the station, feet sinking into the snow, watching for ice. A couple of loud rumbles of thunder sound, a reminder that not all storms are tropical.
When we arrive at the station we discover the trains shut-down entirely, the platforms closed. Okay, hotel night tonight. We pop into the station convenience store to buy some packaged meals to heat up later: Lucky the hotel has microwaves. Then we wait for a late-running bus back to our hotel.
The driver has to keep hitting the rear door with a hammer to get it to close properly.
We step off the bus into deep fluffy snow, perfect for snowballs!
The train shut down is scheduled to last all of tomorrow and possibly longer. So I cancel the next two nights in Okayama and add them to our stay here. If we are lucky we can enjoy more of this region. If not, it’s a really nice room and there’s Netflix.
I also enjoy the hotel’s hot outdoor rotemburo with the heat of the water fighting against the ice crystals blasting into my face in the fierce wind.
Despite the disruption to our plans, it’s fun to experience a real winter.