Ice and snow cover the Amagi Mountains

Twigs are decorated with countless ice beads.

Road covered with powder snow


Small but equipped with snow tires and front-drive system
Thursday, February 11, was a national holiday (National Foundation Day) and I took a day off on Friday so that I could enjoy a long weekend in the Amagi Mountains. I decided this because I needed undisturbed hours for viola rehearsal. I took up this instrument a few months ago and wanted to quickly master it in particular for the performance of the Symphony No.8 of Dvorak.

The problem of staying in the Amagi Mountains in winter time is the risk of snow fall and ice formation on roads. Therefore, I repeatedly checked various weather forecasts and had a firm conviction that the temperature in Amagi would not drop as low as to create danger to road traffic and that there would be no precipitation during my stay there. Nevertheless, temperature began to go down when I started to drive up the mountains, which made me more and more uneasy. After intensive and fruitful rehearsal on the first day I had a good sleep without knowing what was going on outside. Next morning, I got up, opened curtains and saw twigs shining. They were coated with several millimeter thick ice layer.

Snow on broadleaves have a special shape.
When I touched them they sounded like glass sticks. I went out of the house and discovered that the surface of roads was also covered with a layer of ice which was nearly one centimeter thick.

I thought it might be very dangerous to drive down steep slopes under such condition. Fortunately, I had bought necessary food for a day or two on the previous day and there were also some food stocks in the house. Therefore, I decided to stay at home and continue intensive rehearsal.

Then, a few hours later, I noticed white particles falling down from the sky, though all forecasts had promised cloudy - not rainy or snowy - weather. Maybe they were not much interested in the weather in remote areas, especially such areas as the Amagi Mountains where very few people were living in winter - maybe 20 or 30. In the afternoon, when snow stopped falling, there remained a ten-to-fifteen centimeter thick snow carpet.

Though I was not in panic, I became somewhat nervous because I was not sure whether I could go down slippery ice-coated road with new snowfall on it without accident. I therefore decided to stay one more night in the mountains and waited for the betterment of weather conditions.

However, nothing changed on the next day, Saturday. The temperature remained minus and powder snow covered everything to make a romantic landscape. After second thought I decided to descend the mountains not on Sunday but one this day, so that I could make use of more time for descending and I could avoid even worse road conditions, for example melting ice and snow on the road. My small rent-a-car was fortunately equipped with snow tires and it was a front-wheel drive car. Our caretaker and his assistant helped me to remove snow from the road and saw me off till the main road with his 4WD cruiser.

I set the gear to the low position, drove maximum 20 km per hour and thus reached the snow free coastal area without any trouble. But, I must say that I could not enjoy the stay in the mountains as much as I wanted, because I had to worry about the way back. I would not repeat the same mistake in the future. I would never go to mountains in winter except when I had plenty of time so that I could enjoy snow without time constraint.

Sheet music for viola part - Three wooden cats are watching out.