I'm Barry Petersen, and this Letter from Asia comes from Tokyo. This is really for all you Americans suffering too much from the ravages of winter, we invite you to Tokyo because we're missing what you have too much of - snow.
Now that we're complaining - not when the kindergarten class can play outside all day. But Tokyo just broke the record for the longest the city has gone without snow, and there has not been a snow-free winter since they started keeping records 130 years ago.
So, it's picnic weather and people love it, but with a certain sense of unease. One woman says, "I feel something strange is happening to our planet. I worry when I hear about global warming."
The Japanese are getting their chance to see the movie "An Inconvenient Truth", which just opened here. So global warming is is much on people's minds.
One gentleman says, "I like to go snowboarding, but this year, there's not much snow on the slopes, and it may be even warmer in the future." Ski resort owners are suffering, as are the cities that put on ice festivals. But one person's misery is another person's chance at a round of golf in February.
And the forecast? Even warmer. Folks in Tokyo can do the once thinkable and dine out, as in outside. Birds can skip that big trip south and grab a bath in lakes that are usually frozen over. Parks are busy with scantily clad runners who make the place look like spring training.
Some say this kind of weather has been developing for years. According to one woman, "When I was a kid, there were icicles in Tokyo, but I haven't seen them for years." Here is what she's seeing today: blossoms on the plum tree. Not a good sign of the times - they're blooming a month early. "I don't like bitter cold weather," says the woman," But I miss having real winter because it's one of our four seasons."
For those of you shivering, we offer what we can from here. Maybe we just need to adjust and learn to expect spring's beauty coming early.
By Barry Petersen