Thursday 17 October 2013

Guest post from Our Man in Japan - Akibare

Getting out of bed today was a distinctly nippy undertaking.

Looking out of my window, left wide open as a hangover from the muggy summer nights that persisted through September and half of October, 
I saw that autumn had finally deigned to show up.

Dressed and eyeing up my breakfast supplies (negligible) and my coffee selection (growing), 
I donned a scarf for the first time (couldn't come soon enough) and headed to the konbini for some sort of a baked happening for breakfast.

Cycling back with an intriguingly un-Danish Danish pastry, there was a definite hint of a chill in the air, and what had initially seemed like an extravagantly warm getup proved to be a both prudent and fashionable choice. I sipped something that might have been blue mountain coffee and ate something with the surface crunch of a baguette and the intriguing insides of a croissant seemingly made with salted butter, and tried to read something Japanese before heading off for classes.

At this point, I'll admit, I love commuting. Whether it's the ten minute walk to lectures back home, the thirty minute train journey into central London, or as today, the exhilarating three-minute cycle into university. There are backstreets through which you can pick up surprising amounts of speed, and then you shoot into the grounds of a temple complex, ornate buildings separated by criss-crossing paths lined with freshly-pruned pine trees.

Fast forward through the lessons and I'm commuting back again, cycling along the lazy L shape that the path describes to get back home, and that sharp, clean air is persisting long after the morning chill has burnt off. It's so clean that you can smell it; a smell you never get in London, only ever in the countryside. Surprising, considering that there seem to be just as many cars as any other city.

Just as I turned onto my road, there was a whiff of woodsmoke, a smell so universally welcoming and evocative of the cold half of the year that for the first time I felt I was really doing my commute. It's not a smell that you only get in Japan or only in England.

It's that wonderful smell that you only get on the perfect autumn day, wherever you happen to be. Clear, crisp and, after a summer that outstayed its welcome, all the more gratefully received.
Akibare: When the autumn sky is vividly clear and bright; fine fall weather; a lovely autumn day.

A surprise fast forward to spring.
My crocuses are in flower.
Or is it a colchicum?                                        


  1. We have akibare and woodsmoke here in Ireland today as well, and I much enjoyed this post.

  2. Delightful post - seems that autumn is autumn is autumn wherever you are

  3. How lovely to hear from your Foreign Correspondent.

  4. I do believe you have a writer there...:) We are having more than our fair share of akibare here. Lovely word.