Views and Visions: Welcome to spring Part 1

Category : Lifestyle/Entertainment

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. hibernation / haɪ bərˈneɪ shən / (n) – the state of resting or being in a deep sleep during winter

    I explained hibernation to my little sister when she asked why bears always seemed to disappear in winter.

  2. frigid / ˈfrɪdʒ ɪd / (adj) – extremely cold

    I need to wear several layers of clothes to keep warm on frigid days.

  3. downside / ˈdaʊnˌsaɪd / (n) – an unwanted or negative part of something

    One of the downsides of living in New York is the expensive rent!

  4. catch (someone) off guard / kætʃ ɔf gɑrd / (idiom) – to surprise someone, especially by doing something unexpected or something he’s/she’s not prepared for

    His supervisor’s sudden decision to leave the company caught Daniel off guard.

  5. besides / bɪˈsaɪdz / (adv) – in addition to something that’s been mentioned

    I decided to cancel the picnic because only a few people seemed interested. Besides, the weather report said it’s going to rain.


Read the text below.

As I write these words, the sun is shining, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and there is an ice-cold beer by my side.

Without a doubt, spring has arrived.

Growing up in Canada, spring was always my favourite time of year. Anyone who has experienced long months when the temperature was 10 degrees below, or colder, would probably feel the same way. This is the time of year when Canadians emerge from hibernation, put on a light sweater instead of a parka and congratulate their neighbours on surviving another frigid winter. The only downside is that spring means hockey season is nearly over.

It’s a special time, but it’s still nothing like the excitement many Japanese seem to have for the changing of the seasons here.

I have to admit, when I first moved to Japan I had a tough time understanding why everyone was so excited about the country’s four seasons. In fact, I think this part of Japanese culture surprises a lot of foreign nationals and catches them off guard.

Canada also has four distinct seasons and, other than being pleased when winter finally comes to an end, I don’t think I’ve ever given it too much thought. So I wondered why everyone talks about Japan’s four seasons as if they are so unique. Besides, compared to Canada, the winters in Tokyo have never felt like a real winter. This year I didn’t even take my winter jacket out of storage! (Joel Tansey)

To be continued…

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • The author points out that many countries have four distinct seasons, but Japanese people talk about Japan’s four seasons as if they’re so unique. Why do you think this is? Discuss.
  • While many countries have four distinct seasons, not all do. Would you like to experience living in a country with fewer seasons? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • The author says that spring is his favorite season, and the only downside to it is that spring means hockey season is nearly over. What are the downsides to your favorite season? Why? Discuss.
  • The author says that compared to Canada, the winters in Tokyo have never felt like a real winter, and he didn’t even take his winter jacket out of storage this year. In your opinion, what is a real winter (ex. lots of snow, temperatures below 0°C)? Why? Discuss.
Category : Lifestyle/Entertainment