I am crouched down in the snow, frantically digging at it with my bare hands.
The cold bites my fingers, chilling them to the bone, while yet more snow floats down from the sky, hitting my eyelashes and blurring my vision. I fear that I will end up like Captain Scott.
I am surrounded by a blizzard of whiteness; these small flakes have somehow covered everything in sight, and have turned this once familiar landscape into a scene from Antarctica or Lapland. I half expect a reindeer to dash past at any moment, or for a hungry polar bear to appear on the horizon.
The sky is grey now and getting darker as the day draws to a close. I keep digging, eager to escape from this freezing snow globe scene as soon as possible.
Why am I digging in the snow? Where exactly am I and how did I get here?
Well, dear reader, I am in the car park of a train station in Japan with four friends, trying to release our car from its snowy tomb.
When we had parked the car here this morning everything looked very different; the sun was shining, and although the air was cold, there was not a single cloud in the sky.
A clear sky, on a crisp winters day, while we were full of the joys of spring. Why were we so happy and excited?
Well, we had driven for an hour through country roads to get to this train station, then boarded a train for another hour that took us to the epic central station in Kyoto, where we changed trains to head to an urban area halfway between Kyoto and Osaka.
Oh yes, we were on an epic mission to find a mythical Pizza Hut.
You see, we lived in rural, coastal Japan where there was no such thing as Pizza Hut. Yes, there was a KFC in Kyoto, and a McDonald’s in the next city from my town, but we were all really, really craving Pizza Hut; after two years of living in Japan we were tired of sushi, rice, fish and noodles.
And what did it matter that the nearest Pizza Hut restaurant was three hours away? We knew it would be worth it.
Upon arrival, the waiters looked horrified as we all ordered our own massive pizzas while, on the next table, two tiny Japanese women picked at a shared a salad.
One of my genius friends had packed in his bag an array of food containers with which to transport some of this pizza treasure back home with us.
After our epic meal it was time to start our three hour journey back home.
As the train got closer to where our car was parked we were startled to see just how much snow had fallen in our absence; there hadn’t been a single flake outside our Pizza Hut.
We got off the train and climbed down the station steps, surprised by the scene in front of us: three feet of snow had fallen, and the cars were all but anonymous mounds of snow.
Trudging through the snow in our trainers was treacherous enough, but then came the realisation that we would have to dig the car out with our bare hands, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to get home (which was a further hour’s drive away).
Thankfully our bellies were still full of pizza so we had the energy to free the car from its icy tomb and eventually set off on our slow drive home through the snowy rural roads.
It wasn’t how we had pictured our Pizza Hut expedition would end, but honestly, despite the six hour round trip, the near-death-by-frostbite experience and epic snow storm, it was so fucking worth it.