February 01, 13 | Takako Chiba
There’s been an awful lot of snow this year already. Removing all of it is a seriously tough job. You wake up in the morning and have to clear the walkway and then around your car, only to come home to find more snow has fallen and you have to do it all over again!
▲ We thought clearing the snow wouldn’t be too bad in the nice, sunny weather. It wasn’t long before we felt like giving up. “Enough already!” It was falling faster than we could clear it!
Every house in Hokkaido is sure to have a snow shove. In fact, they probably have more than one. Maybe one for heavier snow that seems to land with a thud when you throw it, and perhaps another for light snow that kind of flies as you clear it from a path. Whatever the weather, it’s important to have the right shovel for the snow. So today, I’ll you a couple different varieties available.
▲ Family teamwork.
Home supply stores usually have a good selection for snow shovels, so we went to the Homac depot on Kitano Dori in Sapporo.
▲ We’ve had so much snow recently that the selection has been pretty picked over. Nonetheless, Homac didn’t disappoint; there was still plenty to choose from.
The basic snow shovel is popularly called a Jonba. It’s unclear where the nickname came from, but you’re likely to find one of these in just about every household.
▲ As the spokesman for Homac told us, “The word ‘Jonba’ is exclusive to certain areas of Hokkaido. I grew up in Iwamizawa but had never heard the word. It’s not used in Tomakomai or Kushiro either. But you will often heard the word used in cities like Ebetsu or Sapporo.” He told us that we can also hear the word in stores but it almost always comes from older customers. “I like the sound of the word, so I hope it doesn’t disappear,” he said. What about you? Have you ever heard the word ‘jonba’?
The addition of a curve to the handle appeared a few years ago. It is designed to make lifting the shovel once full with snow much easier on your lower back. It should make shoveling a little less strenuous.
Yet another tool, called a pusher, is used for just that - pushing the snow - rather than shoveling it. It’s good when you have a larger area to clear.
▲ On the left is the pusher, for lighter snow covering bigger areas. On the right, the shovel with the curved handle is meant to make the task of shoveling snow less strenuous for anyone.
With various types and various brands, there’s a shovel for everyone’s needs.
The embossment on this shovel helps for a smooth pick up.
▲ The texture makes this a unique style of shovel
Another aspect of all these shovels is that some makers actually make replaceable parts. I’m sure any Hokkaido native has had the plastic blade of their shovel break or crack on them at least once. When that happens, it’s great to be able to just buy a new one and keep shoveling!
▲ It’s easy to break the plastic on a snow shovel, but its great that replacing the broken part is just as easy!
And this! Great for moving large amounts of snow in one dump!
You can easily move a large amount of snow so it’s perfect for a parking lot or sidewalk. The image of this shovel might make some of our readers nostalgic for their childhood, when some of them are certain to have played and been pulled around on one of these.
Clearing snow is even a family activity now with some of the shovels that are available for kids!
▲ For kids, it doesn't take long for shoveling snow to become a game
▲ Every bit of power is needed, even when it comes from small kids with small shovels.
▲ When it comes to snow clearing, even small kids are a big help.
Mounting snow on rooftops can often lead to small avalanches. It’s important to clear eaves to keep the areas below safe. Even for this, there’s shovels and tools.
For hard snow, you can use a scoop and for ice you can use a kind of pick axe available. Recently, there’ve been ice pick items on the market that make ice removal easy for even girls lacking in arm strength.
The trouble is that even if you have tools that help make snow removal easier, the actual act of removing snow takes significant effort. And it seems the amount of snow in Hokkaido every year is only going to keep increasing. I’m sure some people get a bit bored of waking up early to the snowy scenery, but this is winter in Hokkaido. Get out and enjoy it; after all, all that snow shoveling is great exercise!
But all this snow sure is a pain!
● Information and photography provided by Homac
( Hokkaido Likers Writier – Chiba Takako )