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A few weeks ago I had things to do in Tokyo and Yokohama, so I had a ticket booked for a late-afternoon train from Nagano on Jan. 22. Then that morning my manager in Tokyo phoned to tell me I should come early because “heavy snow” was expected during the day, meaning trains would be delayed and taxis hard to get. At the time there was snow about a meter deep around my house in Kurohime in Nagano Prefecture.

Always dutiful, I got to Tokyo about two hours before I’d originally planned. As predicted, snow was falling, though not in any way I’d consider “heavy” — but there were indeed long lines for taxis at Tokyo Station and the subway was so horrendously crowded that I had to be a one-man rugby scrum to push my way off at my stop.

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